Football - UEFA EURO

"Drink water" - Cristiano Ronaldo's advice sends soft drinks brands reeling

UEFA says sponsors are vital for tournament to go ahead

Àlex Gozalbo
2 min
Cristiano Ronaldo

BarcelonaUEFA reminded the teams taking part in the European Championship that "sponsors are essential for the tournament to take place". The message came after several players withdrew bottles of soft drinks and beer during press conferences. The organising body linked sponsorship activities "to the development of football throughout Europe, including for young people and women".

UEFA's message came days after Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo removed two bottles of Coca-Cola from the table at the pre-Portugal-Hungary press conference in Budapest and replaced them with a bottle of water. "Drink water", blurted out the striker, who is against sugary drinks and unhealthy food. "I'm very hard on my son. Sometimes he drinks Coke and Fanta and eats crisps, but he knows I don't like it", the Juve player admitted in an interview published a few months ago. The boycott of Coca-Cola coincided with a drop in the share price, which lost 3,967 billion dollars (about 3,272 billion euros). Economic analysts do not agree on whether the footballer's gesture was the main trigger for the change in the price of the brand, but they are clear that it was related. Cristiano Ronaldo's rejection of Coca-Cola has another precedent. In 2017 the footballer had to testify before the Spanish justice for having committed tax fraud. Despite being a tense moment, Ronaldo made some jokes, one of them precisely related to the soft drink brand. The Portuguese forgot to take water, so he was offered a bottle of Coca-Cola which he flatly refused: "I don't drink this". He then asked one of the tribunal members for some water.

Cristiano is one of the world's most followed sportsmen on social media. "It would not be in anyone's interest to file lawsuits, particularly against such high-profile players, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were some complaints because of the high economic stakes surrounding the European Championship", says Angelo Cascella, a lawyer and sports law expert.

Beer in the spotlight

A similar gesture was made hours later by France's Paul Pogba after the match between France and Germany in Munich, where he removed a bottle of beer from Heineken, another of the European Championship's sponsors, and placed it under the table before appearing before the media. Another player who did the same was Italy's Manuel Locatelli. After his goals against Switzerland in Rome, the Italian joked about placing a bottle of water between two refreshment tables in the press room. John McGinn, Scotland's national team player, joined in on the tournament's sponsored drinks mess and his first reaction when he arrived at the press conference organised by the Scottish federation was to ask if there was no Coca-Cola.