Euro 2020 Teams Threatened With Fines If Players Follow Cristiano Ronaldo's Coca-Cola Snub

UEFA, European soccer's governing body, has indicated teams could face fines in response to players removing drinks provided by sponsors at press conferences at Euro 2020.

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo removed two bottles of Coca-Cola from in front of his microphone during a press conference on Monday, a gesture imitated by Italy's midfielder, Manuel Locatelli, on Wednesday night following his team's game Switzerland.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, France star Paul Pogba, a devout Muslim, removed a bottle of alcohol-free Heineken.

UEFA, however, has warned similar stunts could have repercussions in the future and has reminded players and teams of their contractual obligations.

"UEFA has reminded participating teams that partnerships are integral to the delivery of the tournament and to ensuring the development of football across Europe, including for youth and women," the body said in a statement on Thursday.

¿Gaseosa? ❌ Agua ✅

Cristiano Ronaldo no descuida la dieta ni en rueda de prensa 😎🔝#EURO2020

— Goal en español (@Goal_en_espanol) June 14, 2021

Martin Kallen, UEFA's Euro 2020 tournament director, said disciplinary action was "a possibility," but explained UEFA would not directly fine players.

"We are never fining players directly from the UEFA side, we will do this always through the participating national association and then they could look if they will go further to the player, but we are not going directly for the moment to the player," he told Reuters.

"We have the regulations signed by the participating federations. [...] We have regulations signed by the participating federations. We have reminded them of their obligations but of course this (fining) is always a possibility."

Ronaldo caused a stir on Monday when he replaced two bottles of Coca-Cola placed in front of him with a plain bottle of water during a press conference ahead of Portugal's game against Hungary.

"Drink water!," the 36-year-old said in Portuguese, as he moved the soft drinks away.

Locatelli followed suit two days later, placing a bottle water on the table in front of him and removing bottles of Coca-Cola as he attended a press conference following Italy's 3-0 win against Switzerland, during which he scored twice.

Manuel Locatelli is the latest player to replace a fizzy drink sponsor with water at #ITA's post match press conference following their win over #SUI

— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) June 17, 2021

Coca-Cola is one of Euro 2020's main sponsors, and bottles have featured at the press conferences held throughout the tournament so far.

It's standard practice for the commercial partners of major events to strategically place their products close to microphones during press conferences.

Pogba, meanwhile, did not remove the bottles of Coca-Cola, but shuffled a bottle of Heineken away, following France's 2-0 win over Germany.

First Ronaldo with the Coca-Cola...

Now Paul Pogba wasn't happy with the Heineken in front of him at his press conference 🍺❌

— Goal (@goal) June 16, 2021

Alcohol is generally considered to be forbidden—or haraam—in Islam and while it remains available in the majority of Muslim countries, practicing Muslims such as Pogba do not consume it.

While UEFA took exception with Ronaldo and Locatelli's actions, Kallen acknowledged the motive behind Pogba's gesture was different.

"If it is for religious reasons, they don't need to have a bottle there," he said.

According to figures from data analytics and consulting company GlobalData, the non-alcoholic drinks sector is worth $367 million in sponsorship to the European sports market.

Unsurprisingly, the Champions League and the European Championship are among the biggest deal. UEFA's deals with soft drink giants Pepsi and Coca-Cola are worth $55 million and $35 million a year, respectively.

"Europe remains perhaps the most widely developed sporting market in the world, with a diverse array of sporting sectors offering numerous sponsorship opportunities," GlobalData sports analyst Patrick Kinch said in a research note.

"With a population of 700 million, and most towns and cities on the continent able to boast at least one professional sports team, it is unsurprising that the non-alcoholic beverage sector's biggest deals are with sporting properties based in the European region."

Cristiano Ronaldo against Hungary
Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates at the end of the Euro 2020 match against Hungary at the Puskas Arena in Budapest on June 15. Ronaldo scored twice in Portugal's 3-0 win. Alex Pantling/Pool/AFP/Getty Images