The Unfolding Between Ronaldo, Coke and Euro 2020

Reacting to a bottle-snatching trend at the European Championship started by Cristiano Ronaldo, players on the 24 teams have been asked to stop removing strategically placed sponsor drinks from the news conference platforms, UEFA said Thursday.

Ronaldo, Paul Pogba and Manuel Locatelli all removed sponsor bottles away from the view of cameras when taking their seats at official media sessions this week.

Euro 2020 tournament director Martin Kallen said UEFA has “communicated with the teams regarding this matter.”
“It is important because the revenues of the sponsors are important for the tournament and for European football,” Kallen said in a briefing.

Pogba, who is Muslim and does not drink alcohol, objected to the distinctive green bottle of official Euro 2020 beer sponsor Heineken. The beer is marketed as 0.0% alcohol.

Kallen said tournament rules require compliance with UEFA’s promises to sponsors, though players with religious objections “don’t need to have a bottle there.” Media managers at each of the 11 stadiums across Europe should also help with removing beer bottles ahead of the arrival of a player of Muslim faith.

Pogba had to take questions in the interview room after being named best player in France’s 1-0 win over Germany on Tuesday. The player awards are sponsored by the brewer.

Ronaldo started the trend on Monday at a mandatory pre-game news conference by hiding two Coca-Cola bottles and replacing them with a water bottle, which was also one of the drink maker’s brands.

A drop in Coca-Cola’s share price this week was attributed by some to Ronaldo’s snub, but without any evidence that the two things were connected.

Locatelli copied the Portugal great on Wednesday after helping Italy beat Switzerland.

It prompted UEFA to remind officials with the teams that players should respect the sponsors and the contributions they make to European soccer.

While UEFA will not impose fines on individual players, Kallen said it was “always a possibility” that national federations get a financial penalty for further incidents.

The issue is a source of comedy for other teams.

Scotland midfielder John McGinn quipped “No Coke?” because there were no bottles in the squad’s training base interview room, and Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said after a 2-1 victory over Denmark on Thursday that his team loves the drink.

Coca-Cola is an official sponsor of the Belgian soccer federation.

All 24 teams will get some of the money paid by Coca-Cola, Heineken and 10 other top-tier sponsors that contribute to UEFA’s total tournament revenue of almost 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion).

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