It has been a difficult start to Euro 2020 for sponsors Coca Cola and Heineken, after Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba discarded their respective products at their press conferences.
Ronaldo’s act in particular cost Coca Cola four billion dollars and with the pair set to avoid retrospective punishment, these incidents have shown the lack of power that both UEFA and these drinks brands have in controlling how elite players behave towards sponsored products.
Marca spoke to several experts in sport sponsorship to find out their views on the actions of Ronaldo and Pogba.
“If this was in the US, this would not happen,” said Carlos Canto, CEO of SPSG consulting.
“If something like this happened in the NFL or the NBA, the player would have been punished. They have a very strict discipline regimen, you can’t do something like that.”
“There are three parties that are implicated: Coca Cola, Cristiano Ronaldo and UEFA.”
Canto went on to state that the sponsors need protecting from UEFA to stop an incident like this from happening.
“If I were Coca Cola, I would immediately call [UEFA] to say, ‘You have to protect me’,” Canto said.
For Cinto Arjam, the founder of CA Sports Marketing, Ronaldo’s actions have set a dangerous precedent at all press conferences.
“The problem is not about Cristiano [Ronaldo},” Arjam said. “It’s about if Cristiano does it and nothing happens, why won’t [Antoine] Griezmann or [Sergio] Busquets do it?”
Arjam believes that footballers have a responsibility to their countries and must therefore support the relevant sponsorship deals.
“What footballers don’t understand is that,” Arjam continued, “although they want to send a good message, there is another reality: the footballer is employed by his national team to participate in a tournament like this and he must accept the rules of the game.
“Among them, there are sponsors and each national team must meet the sponsorship commitments.”