Players with body ink could be exiled from representing their country as part of a reported new directive by the government agency responsible for sports in mainland China
Stars will not be called up to China’s national teams if they have tattoos, according to a report which claims that stars who have them will be ordered to arrange their removal.
The General Administration of Sport (GAS), which is overseen by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China under president Xi Jinping’s government, is said to have released new rules outlawing the kind of tattoos which are almost ubiquitously popular among elite footballers.
New talents who have tattoos will not be added to China’s squad and the Chinese Football Association could draw up potential disciplinary action against national team players who breach the rules, according to the SCMP.
The outlet quoted the statement as telling players to “strictly implement” the new requirements in a bid to set a good example for wider society.
🚨⚽️ | NEW: Chinese authorities have banned players from showing tattoos in games to “set a good example for society” Via @SkySports
— Football For All (@FootballlForAll) December 30, 2021
“The national team and the under-23 national team athletes are strictly prohibited from having new tattoos, and those who already have tattoos are advised to remove them themselves,” the GAS has reportedly ordered.
“If there are special circumstances agreed by the team, players must cover up the tattoos during training and matches.”
It is said to have added that a ban on tattoos will “enhance the sense of mission, responsibility and honour” and “create a national team capable of conquering and fighting well with an excellent style of play.”
Have no doubt that people will be lambasting this from a human rights perspective but I am no big fan of this tattoo phenomena. A lot of these are going to look hideous as the natural ageing process kicks in.
— Gerard Cassidy (@gerardcassidy) December 30, 2021
Tattoos have been around for millennia it’s hardly a “phenomena”…a lot of people are going to look hideous when the natural aging process kicks in, kind of what happens with aging.
— Ste (@april29ste) December 30, 2021
Players in China were thought to have been told not to show their tattoos when several stars clearly appeared to be using bandages to cover parts of their bodies during a 6-0 defeat to Wales in Nanning in 2018.
Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale, who is one of the few leading players in the world not to have any tattoos and has said in the past he will shun them, scored a hat-trick in that game.
The rumored order was said to have come shortly after authorities reportedly banned artists with tattoos from making TV appearances as part of a clampdown aimed at promoting positive moral values.
Chinese players in domestic competitions such as the Chinese Super League are said to have been handed a ‘semi-edict’ forbidding tattoos, according to the New York Times.
The outlet reported that defender Zhang Linpeng covered his arms with a compression shirt as result of the ruling despite playing in sweltering temperatures.
2006 World Cup-winning manager Marcello Lippi is said to have declined to comment on the issue when he was asked about it during his time as China boss in 2019, while his captain, Zheng Zhi, also dodged discussing the issue.
Removing tattoos can be a long, expensive and painful process. In 2015, one clinic estimated that it would take England legend David Beckham eight years and around $25,000 to remove his creations, while former PSG and Manchester United hero Zlatan Ibrahimovic was thought to not be far behind, with a speculated 51 sittings – lasting 38 hours in total – needed to remove the striker’s body art.