Football in Singapore

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Flag of Singapore.svg
Football pictogram.svg
Football In Singapore
1st game
United Kingdom British Engineers XI A vs British Engineers XI B United Kingdom[1]
Governing body Football Association of Singapore
Top leagues (National Leagues) S.League
Singapore National Football League
FAS Island Wide League
FAS Women’s Premier League
FAS Women’s National Football League
National Cup Singapore Cup
League Cup Singapore League Cup
FA Cup Singapore FA Cup
Season starter Singapore Charity Shield
1st international
Singapore Singapore men's 2–3 South Korea 
(Singapore; 12 April 1953)
Men's team Singapore
Women's team Singapore ♀
Boys' team (youth) Singapore U15s & 16s
Stadium National Stadium
(Capacity: 55,000)
International honours
Youth Olympics  Bronze (1) – 2010 (boys' U16)
AFF Championship  Gold (4) – 1998, 2004, 2007, 2012 (men's)
AFC Women's Cup  Bronze (2) – 1977, 1983 (women's)
Lion City Cup  Silver (1) – 2011 (boys' U16)
 Bronze (1) – 2011 (boys' u15)

Association football, known more popularly as football in Singapore, is the national sport of the nation. The sport reached its peak in the 1980s and 1990s during the Singapore Lions' time in the Malaysia Cup, where they dominated the competition. Singapore is home to the Football Association of Singapore, formerly known as the Singapore Amateur Football Association, the oldest football association in Asia, its roots coming from The Football Association, in England. The nation's national teams include the men's, the women's and the boys'. The Singapore Lions, the team which plays in the Malaysia Cup, is not counted due to the team being more like a club, since there is the allowance of foreign players or transfers in the team, and the Malaysia Cup being a club competition among Malaysian states and Singapore.

Singapore left the Malaysia Cup in 1994 and came back in 2012.[2] The current champions of Singapore in football is Albirex Niigata Singapore FC.


Singapore football began with a game between two teams of British engineers in 1889. The Singapore Amateur Football Association (SAFA), now under the name of Football Association of Singapore (FAS), was formed in 1892 by a group of British in colonial Singapore. Soon, the four first-generation ethnicities of Singapore – the Arabs, the Chinese, the Indians and the British all regarded football as their recreation, though it was played most by the British.


Singapore's Football League System[edit]

Tier Men's Football Leagues
1 S.League
9 clubs
2 Prime League
8 clubs
National Football League Division 1
12 clubs
3 National Football League Division 2
11 clubs
4 Island Wide League
5 Singapore's Amateur Football League
Singapore Cosmopolitan Football League
ESPZEN Football League
Equatorial Football League
Ministry of Football
X.League Singapore
D2D Football League
Goal Arena Amateur Football League
Farrer Park Premier League
Hermoso Soccer Arena
Z Sports Football League
Tier Women's Football Leagues
1 FAS Women’s Premier League
5 clubs
2 FAS Women's National Football League
9 clubs

Top Tier Men's Leagues[edit]

Top Tier Women's Leagues[edit]

  • FAS Women’s Premier League
  • FAS Women's National Football League

Centre of Excellence (COE) Developmental Leagues[edit]

Notable Amateur Football Leagues[edit]

Notable Amateur Youth Football Leagues[edit]

  • Merlion Youth League
  • Delta League

S.League and Prime League[edit]

The S.League was founded in the year 1996 and took over the FAS Premier League as a premier football league of Singapore. As a result the FAS Premier League was disbanded. Although the S.League is the tier 1 national football league of Singapore, but it has failed to attract the whole nation to support it, proven by the dwindling attendances to the matches and television view ratings.[3] The S.League has invited foreign clubs to play in it, in attempt to attract more fans. This is possible because there is currently no league system in Singapore whereby the NFL Division 1 top clubs cannot be promote to the S.League,therefore no promotion or relegation. The reserve team of the S.League, mainly U23 squad participate in the Prime League.

The league was officially formed in 1996[4] when Singapore left the Malaysia Cup in 1994, due to disputes with the Football Association of Malaysia. The Prime League was formed a year after the formation of the league and it was organised for the reserve team of the S.League.

The S.League has seen five clubs win the title since its inception. Warriors FC (formerly SAF FC) hold the most titles at nine. In 2010, Étoile FC became the first foreign side to win the competition.[5]

* The inaugural season of the S.League was split into two series. The winners of each series completed in a Championship play-off in which Geylang United defeated Singapore Armed Forces to claim the first S.League title.

Malaysia Cup[edit]

Joining the Malaysia Cup in 1921, known as the Malaya Cup at that time, Singapore were the champions of the inaugural competition. They would further succeed in getting 24 titles for themselves during their time in the competition from 1921–1994, a span of 74 years.

In this competition, and the Malaysia league, Singapore submitted a representative team, which operated like a football club more than a national football team. It was called the Singapore FA in the country's 74 years in Malaysian football. The competition helped bring the likes of Fandi Ahmad and Dollah Kassim, with the former being the only Singaporean to have played for European clubs – he played for FC Groningen and OFI Crete.

Singapore National Football League[edit]

The Singapore National Football League, or more commonly known as the NFL is a semi-professional competition organised for football clubs which are affiliated with the Football Association of Singapore, FAS which was previously known as the Singapore Amateur Football Association, SAFA. It was the premier football league of Singapore until the FAS premier league was formed in 1988. The history of NFL can be traced back to as earl as the early 20th century.

Singapore Cosmopolitan Football League[edit]

The Singapore Cosmopolitan Football League was founded in the year 1975 by soccer section members of the Singapore Cricket Club. It is currently the longest standing amateur football league in Singapore with many ex-professional football players coming to take part in the league. It is also a league for expatriate players in Singapore who are not involved in top league such as the S.League and the NFL.


ESPZEN is a football organization affiliated to the Football Association of Singapore founded by an English banker Lee Taylor back in the early 2000s. It is dedicated to revolutionizing the amateur football scene in Singapore and is currently the biggest amateur football league in Singapore with over 4000 players and over 180 teams. Its main categories are the Sunday League (6 divisions), Saturday League (4 divisions) and Midweek League (2 divisions). It also organizes the veteran league, junior league (for kids) and the ESPZEN futsal league. It is one of the top amateur football league in Singapore together with the Cosmo League and it also has a significant number of ex-professional football players taking part in the tournament. It is also regarded by many to be the most well organized and systematic amateur football league in Singapore. All the clubs which took part in the league are amateur clubs whereby they have to be registered by the organization and be approved to be able to take part in the league. The rules of promotion and relegation only apply through the divisions within the ESPZEN and top team do not promote to the Island Wide League or the NFL. However several teams such as the SCC Tigers and TGA Football Club have taken part not just in ESPZEN but also in the Cosmo League simultaneously through different section under the same club.

Goal 2010[edit]

Goal 2010 was a goal and objective, set by then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in 1998.[6] It was an objective for the Singapore national football team to reach the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa, but the goal was not reached, and was laughed at in mid-2010, during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

"Look at the French World Cup football team. In the final against

Brazil, I picked Zidane as the most outstanding French player. He is of Algerian descent. Of the 22-players, more than half did not look "French". They looked Argentinian, Armenian, Basque, Caribbean, Ghanaian, New Caledonian. Some were born in France, but of immigrant parents. Others are first generation French citizens. When they went up to receive their medals, President Chirac embraced all of them as Frenchmen. He sent a strong political signal for multi-racialism and against xenophobia: that in France, so long as you contribute to the French cause, it does not matter what colour your skin is or where you were born.

Last year I told you Singapore would never have a chance in the World Cup, because the rules require all players to be citizens. But after watching the French victory, I have changed my mind. Maybe if we change our immigration criteria to bring in top football talent and make them citizens, then one day we too can get into the finals. In

fact we intend to do just this, to bring in sports talent."[7]
— Goh Chok Tong, National Day Rally 1998 Speech, commenting further on GOAL 2010

National teams[edit]

The football teams of Singapore, excluding the Singapore FA (Not to be confused with the current Singapore Lions XII which has rejoined Malaysia Super League in 2012 and was placed as runner-up in the tournament); have all brought back honours to the country. The Singapore men's senior team are currently the most successful team in the AFF Cup with 3 titles, won in 1998, 2004 and 2007. The youth team has won bronze in the inaugural football event of the Youth Olympic Games, runners-up and third for the revived 23rd Lion City Cup.


The stadium both male national teams use now is the Jalan Besar Stadium, with the senior's team using it temporarily and the youth team making that as their home stadium. The former stadium of the Singapore men's national team was the now-demolished National Stadium in Kallang. The team has since returned to the new National Stadium, after it was completed in 2014.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ History of Singapore Football Archived 2011-08-26 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved on 2011-08-15.
  2. ^ Singapore is Back!. (2011-07-12). Retrieved on 2011-08-15.
  3. ^ S.League Must Improve. (2011-05-25). Retrieved on 2011-08-15.
  4. ^ About. S.League (1994-12-17). Retrieved on 2011-08-15.
  5. ^ "S.League overview". S.League. Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  6. ^ GOAL 2010 Archived 2012-02-08 at the Wayback Machine.. (2010-06-09). Retrieved on 2011-08-15.
  7. ^ Prime Minister's National Day Rally Speech, 1998. National Archives of Singapore. Retrieved on 2017-08-17.
  8. ^ Singapore Sports Hub to open by April 2014. (2010-08-27). Retrieved on 2011-08-15.