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Beijing (AFP) – Footballers who play in China’s national team should remove all existing tattoos and get new tattoos “strictly prohibited”, said the country’s sports administration.
Sport has been in the crosshairs of the Communist Party’s Purity Law for the past few years, and national soccer team players routinely cover their arms with long sleeves or bandages to hide their tattoos.
However, the China Sports Administration’s statement on Tuesday stated that players on the national team are “strictly prohibited from having any new tattoos.”
“Those who have tattoos are advised to have them removed,” the statement continues. “In special circumstances, with the consent of the rest of the team, the tattoos must be covered during training and competition.”
The U20 national teams and even younger ones are “strictly forbidden” to recruit people with tattoos, it said.
But not all fans seemed to be behind the new rules.
“Do we choose a good soccer player or a saint?” asked an angry fan on the Weibo social media platform.
“Shall we just say that only party members can play football?” asked another.
Body ink has traditionally been frowned upon in China, but it is becoming increasingly popular with young adults, even if the authorities make their disdain for it clear.
In recent years, the Chinese Football Association has ordered players from the national team to be tattooed and has banned young footballers in military camps for exercises and Marxist “thought-forming”.
This has led to complaints from fans that they think more about politics than sports.
Last year, a Women’s University soccer game was finally canceled after players were told they weren’t allowed to dye hair.
President Xi Jinping wants China to one day host and even win the World Cup.
But they’re fifth of six teams in their qualifying group for next year’s World Cup, with only the best two qualified.
During that year, Beijing also enforced a number of restrictions on youth culture, including extensive measures to ban “abnormal aesthetics” and to combat the perceived excesses of modern entertainment.
It set an example of movie stars who have allegedly stepped out of line, banned reality talent shows and ordered broadcasters to stop showing “piggy” men and “vulgar influencers”.
As tensions with the West increased, China has advanced a nationalist and militaristic narrative at home, including a vision of harsh masculinity.
© 2021 AFP