China Bans Footballers From Getting Tattoos In Order To Set “Good Example For Society” - Men's Health Magazine Australia

China Bans Footballers From Getting Tattoos In Order To Set “Good Example For Society”

Chinese footballers with existing tattoos have been ordered to remove or cover them up.

Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos, Neymar and even David Beckham: they may be household names, known for their athletic prowess and stunning skills on the field, but these football stars are also respected for their chiselled physiques sporting all manner of inked graphics. With a perfectly timed goal or mesmerising tackle, these stars have clambered to rip their shirts off, exposing their gym-honed bods and the numerous tattoos that decorate their various limbs. By all accounts, you’d consider tattoos merely a part of the game of football, but for those in China, footballers are now banned from getting tattoos, while those with existing ones have been ordered to remove or cover them up to set a “good example for society,” according to reports issued by the General Administration of Sport of China (GAS). 

In a directive titled “Suggestions for strengthening the management of football players,” the various disciplinary requirements for national team players were outlined. “Athletes of the national team and U23 national team are strictly prohibited from having new tattoos,” read the directive. It went on to add, “Those who have tattoos are advised to remove tattoos by themselves. In cases of special circumstances, tattoos must be covered during training and competition after the consent of the team.”

The directive also states that national teams at U20-levels are forbidden from recruiting new athletes with tattoos, all in an effort to strengthening the positive spirit of Chinese football players as they look to set a better example for society. The directive added that national teams should organise activities that “strengthen the patriotic education” of athletes to “enhance the sense of mission, responsibility and honour, and create a national team capable of conquering and fighting well and with excellent style of play.”

While tattoos are commonplace today, in China they continue to carry a stigma, largely as a result of being used to brand criminals in the past, while still having links to organised crime groups in east Asia. As the BBC reports, tattoos among ethnic groups were often seen as a mark of the uncivilised. Not surprisingly, they are strongly disapproved of by China’s ruling Community Party, but have also become increasingly unpopular among younger Chinese generations. 

Previously, China ensured tattoos shown on television were blurred and some players even had to take to the field with long sleeves in order to cover up their tattoos. For women, things even went beyond that of the tattoo. According to a news outlet, a women’s university football match was cancelled in December 2020 after participants were told they could not have dyed hair. 

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