Footballers’ high profile affairs ‘make adultery seem normal to boys’

London: Soccer stars like Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney’s extra-marital affairs are making kids think that marriages are not meant to last, warn experts.

The footballers, whose alleged infidelity was reported in the tabloid press, have become role models for millions of teenage boys, said Reg Bailey, who is leading a government review of the sexualisation of childhood.

Bailey has noted that actions of pop musicians and footballers may be creating ``norms`` in behaviour for children and indicated that his review for the Department for Education would consider the issue.

These concerns have also been echoed by Relate, the relationships support group, which offered to work with the Football Association to help cut the damage that footballers`` infidelity may have on the future marriages of millions of fans.

Bailey said that sportsmen and women influence kid’s behaviour and ideas of what was acceptable.

"I think there is a fair body of evidence out there that suggests that children are very influenced by certain individuals, particularly those in the public eye, a great deal, whether they be pop stars or sports people," the Telegraph quoted him as saying.

"One area that we will want to look at is where this influence comes from, what signals do children pick up from an early age and that will include role models.

"The sexualisation of children is clearly a concern. Many people simply associate that with girls. I don’t think it is. It impacts both boys and girls and the review will take account of that.

"Undoubtedly behaviour of people in the public eye has an influence on the way children and young adults see the way forward. It does have an influence on children and the way that we see norms developing from that. The review will certainly look at the whole culture of celebrity influence on children’s behaviour patterns," he said.

Meanwhile, Jamie Murdoch of the Children and Young People Development Manager at Relate, said he feared many footballers had little idea that their infidelities could be influencing children who see them as role models.

"Actions have consequences and young people are growing up in a media-influenced culture where they perceive that having an affair is normal and a marriage that lasts is something which even many successful people can’t aspire to.

"Celebrity and football culture and its portrayal in the media, could already be having an impact on future relationships and we need to tackle this problem head on," he said.


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