A primary school has banned football from the playground after its pupils began copying the cheating and fouling displayed by their World Cup heroes.
School headteacher Pat Fay introduced the playground ban two days before Spain triumphed over Holland in the final.
She claims pupils began ”fouling, cheating and shirt pulling” after watching their role models misbehave on television.
All 83 children have now been banned from playing football on the school yard during breaktime and before and after school.
Pat, headteacher at Plymtree CofE Primary School, near Cullompton, Devon, believes that a culture of cheating at the World Cup caused a ”decline in standards” amongst her pupils.
She said: ”We are a Church of England school and we very much value developing a caring attitude among our pupils.
”We felt that playground football was causing a decline in those standards and we noticed that things got worse during the World Cup.
”Children watched their heroes and role models on the television and then copied the fouling and the shirt pulling and the cheating that went on.
”They saw famous players behaving badly and when they got into the playground thought it was OK to kick another player or grab their jumper and pull them over.
”We also had an incident when a teacher was hit in the face with a ball so hard it almost knocked her out.”
On Friday July 9 Headteacher Fay posted a message on the school noticeboard informing pupils and parents of a blanket ban on football.
It read: ”Recreational football is now banned at Plymtree (even in the mornings and after school) – it is not safe and it causes too much bad feeling.”
To replace the lunchtime football sessions pupils will now be supervised several times each week at a nearby playing field – but only during the summer months.
But the move has angered parents and upset pupils, who were crowned local champions in a tournament last season.
Carpenter Dave Bunker, 44, whose son Tom, 11, attends Plymtree Primary School, runs a local under-11s football team.
He said: ”I can see why football has been banned because we have got such a small playground that it can get a bit feisty.
”But when you have got all the boys wanting to play football it becomes a difficult situation. I feel for those boys because they just love the game.
”The final of the World Cup was just bully tactics and when children see that they naturally want to copy it. The diving and fouling was abysmal.”
Parent Governor Siddy Langley believes that the World Cup inspired children who would not normally play football to get involved.
She said: ”It brings out the sportsman in all of us, so it possibly got a bit rowdier.”
Headteacher Fay added: ”We are not against football, in fact we have lots of good footballers and four or five boys who have real potential.
”A few parents have said to us that they understand the decision. They realise it is difficult with a playground the size of a tennis court for 83 pupils.”