Players at Euro 2020 have been warned about the possibility of fines if they follow Cristiano Ronaldo’s lead and move items supplied by sponsors during press conferences.
During a briefing on Monday, Portugal forward Ronaldo moved two bottles of Coca-Cola off to the side, before holding up a bottle of water and announcing “agua” – the Portuguese word for water.
France midfielder Paul Pogba, a practising Muslim, then removed a bottle of Heineken alcohol-free beer out of shot at a star player press conference sponsored by the brewing company.
Paul Pogba removes a beer bottle from the table in front of him - after Ronaldo ditched some cola
Italy midfielder Manuel Locatelli also moved Coca-Cola bottles aside and placed a bottle of water in front of him before speaking to the press after starring in a 3-0 win against Switzerland on Wednesday.
UEFA said in a statement: “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.”
Asked whether players were contractually obliged to leave the bottles alone, tournament director Martin Kallen added: “They are obliged through their federation of the tournament regulations to follow.
“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. We have the regulations signed by the participating federations.”
Asked if this reminder should be treated as a warning that disciplinary action may follow, Kallen added: “We have reminded them of their obligations and of course this is always a possibility.”
On instances like Pogba, he said: “We are quite open that if it’s for a religious reason then they don’t need to have a bottle (next to them).”
England manager Gareth Southgate pointed to the sponsorship money which filters into grassroots sport as a reason to not join the likes of Ronaldo and Pogba.
Southgate was joined by Three Lions captain Harry Kane on a virtual press conference to preview their Group D clash with Scotland on Friday.
The pair did not remove the Coca-Cola bottles on display, with Southgate offering a defence of such sponsorship agreements when asked why he left them in place.
“Well, I think there are lots of sponsors in sport and the impact of their money at all levels helps sport to function,” he said.
“Particularly grassroots sport in our country requires a lot of investment and without some of those companies investing then very difficult to provide the facilities that we need.
“So, I understand the concerns that people have and obviously the two guys had different rationale for the two stances they took, but there’s always a bigger picture to these things, I think.”
Kane, who has a deal with Coca-Cola and posted an advertisement for the drinks manufacturer on Twitter earlier this month. also said such sponsors should be rewarded with exposure for putting money into the game.
“From my point of view I totally agree,” he said, following on from Southgate’s response.
“I think obviously the sponsors are entitled to have what they want if they pay the money to do so."