France midfielder Paul Pogba (Manchester United) removed a Heineken bottle in front of him at a Euro 2020 news conference, a day after Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo removed two Coca-Cola bottles, sparking a furore among football fans. Please click at the following link to watch the corresponding videos.
Superstar Ronaldo, who was elected four times footballer of the year is a well-known health fanatic and made it clear what he thought of the sugary soft drink. He not only replaced two bottles of Coca-Cola with a bottle of water but also said "Agua!" in Portuguese. That seemed to be an encouragement to drink water.
The 28-year-old, Pogba, who is a practicing Muslim, stowed a bottle of Heineken beer under the table at the press conference on the French victory over Germany in Munich. In contrast to Ronaldo, Pogba did not comment.
Like Coca-Cola, the Heineken Brewery is a sponsor of the European Football Championship. It was a bottle of non-alcoholic beer. Still, Pogba obviously disliked the placement in front of him as he did not want to be associated with beer.
As it was reported in social media, Coca-Cola's share price fell almost immediately after Ronaldo's gesture by 1.6% from USD 56.10 to USD 55.22. The market value of Coca-Cola fell from USD 242 billion to USD 238 billion. That's a USD 4 billion decrease. However, it became later known that the drop in share price was most likely not directly related to Ronaldo but instead the Coca-Cola shares became coincidentally ex-dividend the same day, which meant that the stock ceased to carry dividend rights and the share prices adjusted mechanically to a lower number.
It seems that Ronaldo at the age of 36 has reached the peak of his career and no longer has to pay much attention to sponsors, organizations and clubs. However, his move seems hypocrite in view of the fact that he appeared in a Coca-Cola advert and was involved in the brand’s advertising campaign in 2008.
In a response, Europe's soccer governing body, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) said: "Coca-Cola offers a range of drinks to suit different tastes and needs, which are available to players throughout the tournament. This includes waters, isotonic sports drinks and juices, coffee and tea, as well as Coca-Cola."
Coca-Cola was even more diplomatic. The company responded that “"everyone is entitled to their drink preferences based on their tastes and needs."
As it became known, the UEFA has little understanding for the action. Tournament boss Martin Kallen explained that the participating teams had once again been imposed on the rules: "It is important because the sponsorship income is important for the tournament and European football". The agreements with the sponsors would have to be kept. UEFA reserves the right to take action if there are further moves, such as Ronaldo's. However, there will be an exception for players of the Muslim faith. The beer bottles are to be removed from their desks.