Soccer players on China’s national team were seen concealing their tattoos with bandages during matches last week, amid news about a forthcoming ban.
Cover up! Chinese soccer players are facing a tattoo ban
The sport’s governing body in China, the Chinese Football Association, will issue guidelines on tattoos to football clubs in order to promote a “healthy culture,” according to media reports.
Soccer players will not be allowed to participate in matches if they don’t cover up their ink.
Foreign players will be exempt from the restriction.
News of the tattoo ban has sparked heated debate on social media among football fans, with some supporting the idea.
“In Chinese culture, tattoos are symbols of triads, which are not tolerated by mainstream society,” says a user of Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
But not all are in favor of banning ink.
“David Beckham, Messi, Neymar and Ibrahimović all have tattoos over their bodies. The Chinese Football Association is a joke,” says another Weibo user.
Soccer commentator Yan Qiang tells Inkstone that the ban is ridiculous. “Having tattoos isn't something negative.”
“I don't know who is behind the guidelines, but I think they may not thoroughly understand tattoos as a cultural phenomenon.”
This parody photo featuring Zhang Linpeng, a player well-known for his numerous tattoos, is circulating on the Chinese internet.
“When they lost before, they blamed the grass and weather. Now they have started to blame tattoos,” another Weibo user writes.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping is a big soccer fan and has the ambition to turn China into a “strong team in the world.”
The Chinese national team is currently ranked 65th in the world, despite heavy investment. Its performance has been widely criticized by fans.
Hiding their tattoos didn't help their luck last week, either. The country lost to Wales 0-6 in their China Cup match; and fought their way to a draw with war-torn Syria in a U-23 game.