China bans tattoos on national-team footballers to set ‘good example for society’

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BEIJING, CHINA - APRIL 22: Zhang Linpeng #5 of of Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao in action during 2018 China Super League match between Beijing Guoan and Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao at Beijing Workers Stadium on April 22, 2018 in Beijing, China.

The Chinese FA ban national team players from having tattoos. The goal of the move is reportedly to benefit the team and “set a good example for society.”

China’s governing sports body put out the following statement regarding the ban.

“National teams at all levels will strictly implement the relevant requirements of the management measures… (and) fully demonstrate the positive spirit of Chinese football players and set a good example for society.”

General Administration of Sport of China (GAS)

Players who have existing tattoos are now required to cover them up or get them removed. In addition, the U20 squad will no longer recruit players with tattoos. While this complies with the GAS policy, many talents may go unseen with this rule in place.

On top of the tattoo ban, the GAS also wants “political education activities” weaved into the national team setup.

“[Activities 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.”

General Administration of Sport of China (GAS)

If the team aims to become a global powerhouse and one day win the World Cup as president Xi Jinping envisioned, this move may prove harmful to the development of players. Rather than fostering talent, the new rule imposes unnecessary restrictions.

The last time China qualified for a World Cup came nearly 20 years ago in 2002. Even this year the team looks set to bounce out of qualifiers as they currently lie in 5th place out of just six teams in their qualifying group.

If the team hopes to see massive, seemingly sudden improvements similar to Canada, the rule should be altered. However, that seems unlikely given the strict and threatening nature of the Chinese government.

Unfortunately, China already hosts a vast array of bans for its people. Tattoos are just one more addition to that list.

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