Football: NS defaulter Ben Davis called up for Thailand's provisional SEA Games squad

Fulham footballer Benjamin Davis (right), 18, is the youngest player in Thailand's provisional 28-man squad, and the only one based outside Thailand. PHOTO: FULHAM FC

SINGAPORE - Fulham footballer Benjamin Davis, who in February defaulted on his national service obligations, has been called up to Thailand's provisional 28-man squad to take part in the Nov 30-Dec 11 SEA Games in the Philippines.

The Thai Football Association announced this on their website on Saturday (Sept 28) afternoon.

Davis is the youngest player in the squad, and the only one based outside Thailand. The SEA Games football competition is an U-22 tournament, with two over-aged players allowed

The 18-year-old, who was born in Phuket to a Thai mother and English father, moved to Singapore with his family at age five and became a citizen four years later.

He represented Singapore at the Under-16 and U-19 national team levels, and received a call-up to the senior national team in March 2018 for games against the Maldives and Chinese Taipei, although he was not fielded in either game.

Four months after his Lions call-up, Davis signed professional terms with Fulham - where he had been on a scholarship since July 2017 - but just a day later, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) revealed that his application for long-term NS deferment had been rejected.

In Parliament, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen gave three reasons why Mindef rejected Davis' application.

The first was that he was playing as an English national - as listed on Fulham's website.

The second was that his father Harvey had "consistently refused to indicate" when his son would return to do NS, if deferred. The senior Davis said this was because there are "a lot of variables all dependent on his development and progression".

Thirdly, Mindef said the senior Davis indicated that Ben would still sign the contract with Fulham if deferment was not granted - as he did - and would consider the option for his son to renounce his Singapore citizenship in order to pursue his career.

In February, Mindef confirmed that Davis had defaulted on his NS commitments, after failing to report for NS as required. It added that he is also staying overseas without a valid exit permit. As a result, he is liable upon conviction to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to three years.

Davis made his first-team debut for Fulham on Aug 27, coming on as a substitute in the team's 1-0 League Cup defeat at home by Premier League side Southampton.

The Straits Times has reached out to Harvey Davis, Ben's father, for comment.

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