Premiership stars such as Chelsea’s Didier Drogba and Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo were today condemned as being unsuitable role models for children.
“Premiership footballers are respected by children all over the country and they mimic their behaviour,” said Marjorie Billingsworth, organiser of a toddler’s group in Nottingham. “I think most parents of small children see this on a daily basis.”
Mrs Billingsworth highlighted examples of the behaviour that she said was unsuitable and how it was mimicked by children.
“Take Cristiano Ronaldo. When something happens that he doesn’t like, he falls to the ground and rolls around. Then, if the referee does not appear to be giving him what he wants, he will cry out and display a look of complete anguish and agony. His cries can be heard all around the stadium,” said Mrs Billingsworth. “When he does this on a Saturday, you can bet that in supermarkets up and down the land on Sunday morning, there will be two year olds trying exactly the same antics to get their mums to buy them a Milky Way.”
It was not just the tactics used to get their own way that she believed toddlers were copying from their millionaire idols, it was also the manner in which they gave their attention.
“We have often seen Didier Drogba roll around for several minutes in apparent agony from the look on his face showing the injustice that he has suffered, only to see him jump up and take the free kick he has emotionally blackmailed the referee into giving and to carry on with the game as though nothing has happened,” she said. “This can be seen in shopping centres from Land’s End to John O’Groats as toddlers get that much screamed for toy or sweet and then discard it, completely oblivious to the events of a few moments previously.”
Mrs Billingsworth called on all footballers to think of their impressionable fans in future to try and make themselves into better role models.
“I appeal to them,“ she said. “Considering they are big, strong, grown men with vast wealth, talent and opportunity, they should stop behaving in a manner that a spoilt child would recognise.”
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