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China: Football authority ban tattoos, calls players to have existing ink removed

Chinese football authorities have placed an outright ban on tattoos, and are calling for players to have them removed altogether.

Earlier in 2018 football players were asked to cover up their ink.

In a statement released General Administration of Sport (GAS) said national teams at all levels must “strictly implement” the new requirements, adding it was all in the name of setting 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,” the statement said.

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

Under the new rules, younger players with new tattoos will not be called into the national squad. There are also suggestions that the Chinese Football Association would set disciplinary requirements for national team players who breach the rules.



Tattoos among elite Chinese athletes have become more mainstream in recent years. High-profile Chinese players, including international defender Zhang Linpeng, have previously been told to cover up while appearing for the national team and club side Guangzhou FC.

The process of having tattoos removed, however, can be a costly and painful process. Hollywood superstar Mark Wahlberg is one who knows this well, having had all of his tattoos removed over the space of five years.

The GAS said in a statement headed “Suggestions for strengthening the management of football players”, the Chinese Football Association would set out disciplinary requirements for national team players.

Doing so would “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”, it added.