Football stars’ affairs may cause boys to think that adultery is normal and marriage can never be life-long, experts say.
Reg Bailey is in charge of a Government-backed investigation into the sexualisation of childhood, and he wants to examine the impact of celebrity lifestyles on impressionable youngsters.
He says much of the concern about sexualisation has focused on its impact on girls, but boys should not be forgotten.
Mr Bailey said: “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.
“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.”
Mr Bailey continued: “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.”
Relate, the relationships advice group, agreed that football stars’ affairs may have a negative impact on boys’ expectations.
Relate’s Jamie Murdoch said: “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.”
Mr Murdoch added: “But what is of most concern to Relate is the normalisation of infidelity as a consequence of footballers’ activities.
“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.”