Chinese footballers will need to undergo the painful process of having tattoos removed or risk being snubbed by the national team following a new order banning the body work.
The General Administration of Sport (GAS) have gone a step further than they did in 2018 when players were forced to cover up tattoos to continue playing.
In their latest move GAS have outlawed tattoos altogether and want any player with pre-existing tattoos to get them removed in order to ‘set a good example’ for Chinese 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,’ the GAS statement said.
‘If there are special circumstances agreed by the team, (players) must cover up the tattoos during training and matches.’
China has previous in wading into the appearance of its players with a women’s football match in 2018 called off after players were told they were prohibited from playing with dyed hair.
‘Athletes are not allowed to dye their hair, grow long hair [for boys], wear weird hairstyles, or wear any accessories,’ rules of the Fujian Provincial Department of Education, reported by the South China Morning Post (SCMP), stated at the time.
‘Otherwise, they will be disqualified from the competition.’
Tattoos have been treated with disdain in China but their popularity has increased among young adults, and many footballers.
Zhang Linpeng of Guangzhou FC is one such player known throughout Chinese football for his extensive ink.
But new rules look set to prove problematic for younger players with any fresh tattoos likely to result in expulsion from the national team.
Players in the national team have previously been seen playing with tape covering any visible tattoo areas.
The GAS went on to add that China’s national teams, throughout age groups, should organise ‘ideological and political education activities’ that would ‘strengthen the patriotic education’ of its players.
The statement is headed ‘Suggestions for strengthening the management of football players’.
It is anticipated that the Chinese FA will be charged with setting out disciplinary requirements for future national team call-ups.