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FAS President Zainudin revealed in a television interview that the S.League held a strong financial presence for the country

The 12-team S.League is into its 17th year of operation this year, and despite a turbulent near-two decades of existence, Singapore's first professional football league has a significant financial presence according to Football Association of Singapore (FAS) President, Zainudin Noordin.

Speaking in a media interview with Mediacorp's Suria channel, Zainudin noted that the S.League was of great importance and that it contributed $200million annually to Singapore's economy.

"Since it started about 16 years ago, it has grown so big that it brings in about $200 million to the Singapore economy every year," explained Zainuddin on BICARA.

"It also generates a lot of other activities and jobs related to football. This is an example of how a professional league is important. Now with LionsXII in the Malaysia Super League, it will expand the regional involvement between Singapore and Malaysia. "

The S.League, which was launched in 1996, has seen its fair share of criticism for failing to capture the interest of the nation in recent years, most evident in the falling attendance figures. However, the league has seen a boost in fan interest, with strong attendance numbers for most matches of the 2013 season. Zainudin noted the trend as well at the 31st FAS Annual General Meeting, when he stated that the S.League had an increase in attendance of 45% for the first half of the season this year.

In the interview with Suria, the FAS President elaborated that the Singapore football industry has allowed the participation of 'hundreds of thousands' and brought various entitities together.

"There is a lot of involvement from communities, schools, corporations and from professional leagues such as the S.league," he said.

"S.league has been established for 16 years. There are hundreds of thousands of people involved in the football industry in Singapore. That is something the FAS is proud of, and we are still thinking of how to involve even more people.

"There is big potential for football in our country and the region."

Zainudin confirmed in the televised interview that an appearance in the final of the upcoming SEA Games was the target for the Singapore team, and that FAS was determined to host one of the Fifa Youth World Cups in 2019.