Euro 2020: Footballers told to stop moving sponsors’ drinks at news conferences

UEFA has asked players to stop moving strategically placed sponsor drinks from Euro 2020 news conference platforms.

The trend was started by Cristiano Ronaldo when he hid two Coca-Cola bottles and replaced them with a water bottle.

The Portugal star was copied by Italy’s Manuel Locatelli.

And Paul Pogba, who is Muslim and does not drink alcohol, objected to the distinctive green bottle of official Euro 2020 beer sponsor Heineken, moving a product that is marketed as 0.0% alcohol.

Euro 2020 tournament director Martin Kallen said UEFA has “communicated with the teams regarding this matter”.

He added: “It is important because the revenues of the sponsors are important for the tournament and for European football.”

Mr Kallen said tournament rules require compliance with UEFA’s promises to sponsors, though players with religious objections “don’t need to have a bottle there”.

England manager Gareth Southgate has had his say on the controversy, pointing out the sponsorship money filters into grassroots spor.

“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.

“And I think with anything, of course we’re mindful of, in our country, obesity and health, but everything can be done in moderation and I think anything that you take part in or partake in in moderation is rarely a problem.”

Meanwhile, the issue is a source of comedy for other teams.

Scotland midfielder John McGinn quipped “No Coke?” because there were no bottles in the squad’s training base interview room

And Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said after a 2-1 victory over Denmark that his team loves the drink.

Coca-Cola is an official sponsor of the Belgian soccer federation.

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