Spain boss Luis Enrique is the latest football figure to get involved in Coca Cola-gate at Euro 2020 – and has disagreed completely with Gareth Southgate.
The tournament sponsors have been put, quite literally, front and centre of the discussions at press conferences this past week following Cristiano Ronaldo’s choice to remove two bottles of the sugary drink out of shot.
Ronaldo showed his disapproval for the product by declaring “Agua” (water), in a stance which has since been followed by Italy’s Manuel Locatelli, while Paul Pogba did similar with bottles of Heineken.
England captain Harry Kane and boss Southgate then went against the curve by leaving the bottles in place for their pre-match press conference ahead of the Scotland clash.
Asked why they had not followed Ronaldo’s lead, Southgate replied: “I think there are lots of sponsors in sport and the impact of their money at all levels helps sport to function, particularly grassroots sport in our country requires investment and without some of those companies it would be very difficult to have the facilities we need.
“We’re mindful in our country of obesity and health but everything can be done in moderation, and anything that is done in moderation is rarely a problem.”
However, Enrique is clearly not an advocate of the product – or even the sugar free versions – as he stated before his own press conference on Friday.
“It’s Coca Cola Zero. It’s the sponsor?” he said, before adding: “Don’t drink Coca Cola, kids.”
It will come as another blow to the sponsors, who may millions to support the event and market their brand.
UEFA have warned any players or coaches removing sponsorship products could now face a fine as it is in their contracts to oblige.
Organisers for the tournament 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.”
Pogba’s own stance could perhaps be forgiven, as he moved the beer due to his religious beliefs as a practicing Muslim, which forbids him from drinking alcohol.
It is Ronaldo’s actions which are possibly the most perplexing, as he has previously starred in a commercial for Coca Cola, while he has a variety of other endorsements.
Adding to the debate, Southgate said: “I understand the concerns that people have. Obviously the two guys [Ronaldo and Pogba] have different rationale to the stances they took but there’s always a bigger picture.”
Kane said: “Obviously the sponsors are entitled to what they want if they’ve paid the money to do so.
“It’s not something I’ve thought too much about. I’ve seen it go round on social media but if I’m totally honest I’m more focused on tomorrow [England’s match vs Scotland] than anything like that.”
Meanwhile, Aston Villa and Scotland star John McGinn took the opportunity to poke fun at Ronaldo.
Arriving to a press conference to just water on his table, McGinn quipped: “No Coke?”