Football stars who swear at referees during matches are to blame for abusive and unruly behaviour among teenagers in schools, headteachers' leaders said yesterday.
TV companies should not show players telling the referee to "f*** off" until after the 9pm watershed, said Martin Ward, deputy general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association.
Speaking at the association's annual conference in Brighton, he called for the rules of football to be changed so any player using foul language would be sent off.
Schools have an "infinitely more difficult" job to enforce discipline when famous players go unpunished for swearing at referees - live on prime time TV, he said.
"When a player tells a referee to f*** off in full view of millions of people on television he should be sent off, not for a repeated offence, but first time, every time, however famous he may be.
"He would soon learn how to behave in civilised society and an example would be set to young people," he said.
Mr Ward's comments follow an incident last month when Manchester United and England star Wayne Rooney was caught on film swearing at the referee.
Southampton's David Prutton was banned for ten matches last week after shouting at and pushing the referee and his assistant.
Mr Ward went on: " Violence, verbal abuse, foul language, cheating and defiance of authority occur sometimes in schools.
"They occur much more frequently outside school and in particular, in professional football, often without the player even being cautioned.
"This is shown on prime time television, making the job of schools where public expectations of standards of behaviour are much higher than elsewhere in society infinitely more difficult."
Ofsted warned recently that standards of discipline in schools have declined in recent years, with low-level disruption such as rudeness and constant chattering the main problems.
Both Labour and the Tories have put discipline at the heart of their pre-election schools policies, with Education Secretary Ruth Kelly demanding a "zero tolerance" approach to bad behaviour.
Mr Ward called on TV companies to mend their ways.
" Where is the moral authority of television companies in showing this to the nation?
"Such incidents should not be shown until after the 9pm watershed, and preferably not at all."
In September last year, a leading independent school headmaster launched a similar attack on the "systematic thuggery" of cheating sports stars.
David Kidd, chairman of the Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools, said: "Every time a player dives in the penalty area, or is seen in close-up on TV mouthing obscenities, every time a player clearly pulls a shirt or feigns injury to get an opponent sent off, so our job becomes that much harder."