China has issued a crackdown on footballers getting tattoos, instructing players to remove or cover their own as a “good example to society”.
Governing authorities have also issued bans on further inkwork for those within the Chinese Super League and stars selected for the country’s national team.
The ruling comes following previous instances whereupon Guangzhou defender Zhang Linpeng has been ordered to hide his tattoos while playing at both club and international level.
What has happened?
Amid a growing percentage of high-profile players sporting tattoos, the General Administration of Sport of China (GAS) has moved to shut down any further instances.
“National teams at all levels will strictly implement the relevant requirements of the management measures,” the organisation announced in an edict, adding that the Chinese Football Association would issue disciplinary action against national team players found in breach.
“[This will] 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.”
China face further World Cup absence
Amid additional instructions from the GAS – including the suggestion of "ideological and political education activities" to "strengthen the patriotic education" of players – the country’s national team faces another four-year cycle without a World Cup appearance.
Despite hopes that their orders 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”, Li Xiaopeng’s side lie fifth in AFC Group B, six points off the qualification places with four games to go.
China have not appeared at the showpiece tournament since they first qualified for Korea/Japan 2002, where they exited at the group stage without a goal, and look likely to be absent from Qatar 2022 too.