Football in Singapore

Football is Singapore’s national sport and was first introduced in the late 1800s in a game between two teams of visiting engineers from Great Britain. From then on, regular matches between professional and civilian British teams have been dominating the local sporting scene and have paved way for the local ethnic groups to adopt the game mostly for recreational purposes.

The governing body of football in Singapore is the FAS or the Football Association of Singapore. The association was established in 1892 as Singapore Amateur Football Association, the predecessor of FAS. It was also in the same year that the first Association Challenge Cup followed by Singapore Football League was played, with both games dominated by European teams. The local Singaporean teams have soon been formed and competed in the mentioned competitions.

It was in 1921 when Singapore first joined the Malaysia Cup and was the first team to snag the championship title on its first year. Later on, 24 more titles were won in the Cup’s 74 years run. Most say, the country reached its peak in football in the years between 1980 and 1990.

Due to a dispute with Malaysia Football Association, Singapore left Malaysia Cup in 1994, but joined again 18 years after in 2012. It was a much awaited come-back that the team concluded a second place finish in the same year.

On a local level, the S.League functions as the country’s men’s national football league and was formed in 1996. – two years after leaving the Malaysia Cup. There have been 21 clubs who have played in the league since it was formally formed. At the moment, there are currently 12 clubs competing in S.League, coming from countries like Malaysia, Brunei and Japan. Former countries who have participated were from China and Korea.

In October 2013, the president of FAS, Zainudin Nordin, announced and confirmed that the country has set to bid on hosting the World Cup as part of ASEAN in the future. The idea has first resurfaced in 2010 after Malaysia’s lead in forming a bid for the member nations to host the said event.

World Cup is hosted in one continent per season which makes that closest chance to holding the event in the region would be in 2030. Qatar will be hosting the Cup in 2022 and will be the first Asian country to host the coveted event. Other countries that will be hosting the World Cup are Brazil in 2014 and Russia 2018.

Through the years, Singapore’s national teams have brought home several honours to the country. The recent success would be the country’s men’s senior team that has dominated the AFF Cup in 1998, 2004 and 2007.