In the latest development, China has banned their national team footballers from donning tattoos and has also instructed players to remove or cover the existing ones. Moreover, the country’s sporting administration body has also prohibited the selectors from recruiting new players with tattoos at both the national and the youth squad levels.

As per the Chinese administration, this move would help create a ‘good example for society. One of the most notable stars to have been sporting a tattoo is experienced international footballer Zhang Linpeng. The 32-year old defender has been told to cover up his tattoos while playing for both the national team as well as club Guangzhou FC.

China bans footballers from sporting tattoos

Via a statement issued on Thursday, December 30, China’s General Administration of Sport (GAS) instructed national players to remove or cover their tattoos during both trainings and competitions. The statement read,

“National teams at all levels will strictly implement the relevant requirements of the management measures… (and) fully demonstrate the positive spirit of Chinese football players and set a good example for society. The national team and the U23 national team athletes are strictly prohibited from having new tattoos, and those who already have tattoos are advised to remove them themselves. If there are special circumstances agreed by the team, (players) must cover up the tattoos during training and matches.”

Tattoos are stigmatized in China

Tattoos historically have had a negative impression in Chinese culture as in the past they were used to brand criminals. Moreover, some organized crime groups in east Asia yet use tattoos to identify themselves.

China’s ruling Communist Party has stepped up regulation since mid-2018 to disapprove of tattoos, but these marks have become increasingly popular amongst the youth. The authorities have hence begun this step with the national football team, hoping that they would have a good impression on the youngsters of the country.

Meanwhile, the Chinese national team once again failed to qualify for next year’s World Cups in Qatar. They are currently in fifth place in their qualifying group after six rounds of matches and cannot proceed any further. The last time the side made an appearance at the World Cup was their debut appearance in 2002.