UEFA have sounded a stern warning to players and teams at Euro 2020 after a number of incidents involving their drinks sponsors in press conferences.
Paul Pogba, a practising Muslim, followed in Ronaldo’s footsteps the following day as he took away a bottle of Heineken during a press conference after France’s victory over Germany.
Then on Wednesday, Manuel Locatelli made it three snubs in three days by replacing Coca-Cola with water after scoring twice as Italy defeated Switzerland.
Euro 2020 tournament director Martin Kallen responded to the incidents on Thursday by reiterating the importance of various sponsorship agreements.
“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,” said Kallen.
Pressed on whether players are contractually obliged not to remove the bottles in press conferences, 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.”
After explaining how players could be fined for interfering with the sponsorship partnerships, Kallen was asked if he had served a warning of future disciplinary action.
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He responded: “We have reminded them of their obligations and of course this is always a possibility.”
However, the UEFA chief has no problem with Pogba removing a bottle belonging to a beer brand – even though it was the non-alcoholic alternative to the regular beverage – on account of his religious beliefs.
Discussing that scenario, he said: “We are quite open that if it’s for a religious reason then they don’t need to have a bottle.”
Meanwhile, England captain Harry Kane explained why he will not be removing any bottles from his vicinity in upcoming press conferences.
“Obviously the sponsors are entitled to what they want if they’ve paid the money to do so,” said Kane on Thursday night – the eve of England’s Wembley encounter with Scotland.
“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 than anything like that.”