Footballers who play for China’s national team have been banned from getting tattoos – and advised to remove ones they have – under a new directive.
The country’s sports administration body said recruiting new players with tattoos at national level and to youth squads was “strictly prohibited”.
The administration said the move would help set a “good example for society”.
Some national stars, including defender Zhang Linpeng, have previously been told to cover their tattoos.
China has been increasingly stepping up regulation since mid-2018 to stop tattoos being shown on screens. Some professional footballers have since been covering their arms with long sleeves to hide their body art.
In a statement, the country’s General Administration of Sport (GAS) said national players with tattoos were “advised to have them removed”.
“In special circumstances, the tattoos must be covered during training and competition, with the consent of the rest of the team,” it said.
In Chinese culture a stigma has been attached to tattoos – in the past they were used to brand criminals and the tattoo still has links to organised crime groups in east Asia. Tattoos among ethnic groups were often seen as a mark of the uncivilised.
Earlier this year, China’s broadcasting regulator announced that it was tightening rules on what it described as “unhealthy content”.
Television and internet appearances by sports personalities and celebrities have been restricted in cases involving tattoos and men’s ponytails – in some instances these have been blurred from screens.
Last December, a women’s university football match in China had to be called off after players were told they were not allowed to have dyed hair.
The match organisers, the National Youth Campus Football League, said in a statement at the time: “Athletes at all stages shall not have tattoos, dye their hair, wear weird hairstyles, or wear any accessories, otherwise they will be ineligible for the competition.”
Comments by Netizens
Speaking as someone covered in tattoos. I do see the problem with the younger generations idolizing the wrong type of person. But I don’t think soccer players are covering their faces in tattoos and trying to be famous on the Internet.
The main issue is where do you draw the line. In the US having a small tattoo on the shoulder was controversial. In less than 10 years, the new controversial is having your face covered in tattoos.
Seems now days if you give someone an inch they want a mile, always just pushing the limits.
They are players. Surely you did a background check before taking them in, tattoos one of the reasons to boost their self esteem in the game. You have to control everything to the toe in people don’t you
Meanwhile, Japan and Korean teams = full of dudes with dyed hair and some with small tattoos, yet still consistently make the world cup while China… Where are they?
Sports administration's got the wrong priorities.