A new directive in China has made it compulsory for footballers who play for the country’s national team to have their tattoos removed or covered.
The country’s sports administration body said recruiting new players with tattoos at national level and to youth squads was “strictly prohibited”.
The administration said the move would help set a “good example for society”.
Some national stars, including defender Zhang Linpeng, have previously been told to cover their tattoos.
China has been increasingly stepping up regulation since mid-2018 to stop tattoos being shown on screens.
And some professional footballers have since been covering their arms with long sleeves to hide their body art.
In a statement, the country’s General Administration of Sport (GAS) said national players with tattoos were “advised to have them removed”.
“In special circumstances, the tattoos must be covered during training and competition, with the consent of the rest of the team,” it said.
In Chinese culture a stigma has been attached to tattoos – in the past they were used to brand criminals and the tattoo still has links to organised crime groups in east Asia.
Tattoos among ethnic groups were often seen as a mark of the uncivilised.
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