Footballers’ indiscretions are leading young fans to believe that extra-marital affairs are normal, according to experts.
Reg Bailey, chief executive of the charity Mothers’ Union, told the Daily Telegraph there was evidence that alleged affairs conducted by high-profile sporting stars influenced children.
It is feared that reports of infidelities involving England internationals Wayne Rooney and Ashley Cole could normalise the behaviour in the minds of young fans.
Mr Bailey is currently leading a Government review into the sexualisation of children.
He told the Daily Telegraph: “I think there is a fair body of evidence out there that suggests that children are influenced by certain individuals, particularly those in the public eye, a great deal, whether they be pop stars or sports people.
“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 comments follow a year in which a number of high-profile sports stars have been exposed in the media allegedly cheating on their partners.
Jamie Murdoch, children and young people development manager at relationship support group relate, echoed Mr Bailey’s concerns.
He told the newspaper that there was a risk of the “normalisation of infidelity as a consequence of footballers’ activities”.