In recent days Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo and France’s World Cup winning midfielder Paul Pogba have removed bottles from press conferences. But now UEFA has hit back, in defence of partnerships with sponsors.
European football’s governing body UEFA has warned players at Euro 2020 they have contractual obligations towards sponsors and say teams could be fined if merchandise is removed during press conferences or games.
Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo got the ball rolling on Monday, 14 June, when he removed two bottles of Coca-Cola from the table in front of him during a post-match press conference and suggested people drink water instead.
On Tuesday, 15 June, Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, a Muslim, removed a bottle of Heineken beer from the table as he prepared to speak to journalists.
Manuel Locatelli, who scored two goals for Italy in their victory over Switzerland on Wednesday, 16 June, substituted Coca-Cola with water when talking to reporters after the game.
On Thursday, 17 June, UEFA put out a statement in which it reminded players that it had contracts in place with a variety of sponsors.
The statement said: “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.”
UEFA’s Euro 2020 tournament director Martin Kallen said: “We have regulations signed by the participating federations. We have reminded them of their obligations but of course this (fining) is always a possibility.”
But he accepted there were exceptions: “If it is for religious reasons, they don’t need to have a bottle there.”