BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Ukraine skipper Andriy Yarmolenko became the latest player at the European Championship to mess about with sponsors’ drinks bottles at a post-match news conference on Thursday in a trend amusing social media users but disconcerting organisers.
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo started the fad by moving aside bottles of Coca-Cola and pointedly grabbing water instead as he sat down to speak to the media on Monday.
After the snub – which was widely shared and viewed by millions around the world – stock in the drinks company and Euro 2020 sponsor dipped 1.6%, losing about $4 billion in value.
Yarmolenko, fresh from scoring in his team’s 2-1 win over North Macedonia, took advantage of the limelight for some mischief.
“Can I do something? I saw Ronaldo doing this,” he said, grinning. “I want to move the (Coca-Cola bottles) here and I want to move the beer here. Coke and Heineken, please get in touch.”
The 31-year-old then dissolved into laughter before moving the bottles back to their original positions in front of him.
France midfielder Paul Pogba, a practising Muslim, removed a Heineken bottle at a news conference on Tuesday, while Italy midfielder Manuel Locatelli also moved Coca-Cola bottles on Wednesday, replacing them with water.
European governing body UEFA has taken a dim view of the players’ gesture, reminding teams they have contractual obligations towards tournament sponsors.
Coca-Cola did not immediately comment on Yarmolenko’s action, though after the Ronaldo incident it referred to a UEFA statement outlining the company’s range of drinks also including waters, isotonic sports drinks, juices, coffee and tea.
Heineken has not commented.
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)