Tattoos targeted as Chinese authorities seek to set ‘good example’

Chinese authorities have banned soccer players from getting tattoos and instructed national team players who have been blacked out to remove or cover them up to be a “good example to society.”

A growing number of high-profile Chinese players have grown tattoos, including international defender Zhang Linpeng, who has previously been told to cover up while performing for both the national team and club side Guangzhou FC.

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The General Administration of Sport of China (GAS) said in a statement entitled “Proposals to strengthen the management of football players” that the Chinese Football Federation will set disciplinary requirements for national team players.

“National teams at all levels will carefully implement the relevant requirements of the management measures … (and) fully demonstrate the positive spirit of Chinese footballers and be a good example to society,” it said.

“The national team and the U23 national team’s athletes are strictly forbidden to get new tattoos, and those who already have tattoos are advised to remove them themselves.

“If there are special circumstances agreed upon by the team, (the players) must cover the tattoos during training and matches.”

It also said that for teams below the 20 level and below, recruiting players with tattoos was “strictly prohibited.”

GAS added that national teams should organize “ideological and political training activities” that would “strengthen the patriotic training” of players.

Doing so would “enhance the sense of mission, responsibility and honor and create a national team capable of conquering and fighting well and with excellent playing style,” it added.

China’s national team has not managed to qualify for the World Cup finals since their debut in 2002 and looks set to miss Qatar 2022.

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