We all love live-action sports, which vanished from our lives due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As the virus started loosening its grip across the countries, sporting events were also back on the menu. Many events that were pushed ahead were held recently. UEFA Euro championship 2020 happened to be one such tournament, which kicked off amid much fanfare on June 11. However, this time round some off-field antics also made news just like certain on-field exploits. Two incidents that created a lot of buzz warrant some serious introspections.
The first one pertains to Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese star footballer, who pushed aside two Coca-Cola bottles and grabbed a bottle of water during a press conference at the UEFA Euro tournament. Then the second one was involving Paul Pogba, Man United and French striker, who moved a Heineken Non-alcoholic beer out of sight during a presser at the UEFA Euro championship 2020. These events grabbed headlines in various publications and also triggered off several memes on social media. Now, the question is what was the reason for these stunts involving some innocuous bottles?
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It is not very clear why Ronaldo did this. Several experts have attributed Portuguese star player’s antic to fitness issues as the Portuguese striker felt that water is more appropriate to his body than the aerated beverages. As far as Pogba was concerned the matter was religious. Being a devout Muslim he was not comfortable with the idea of a beer bottle in front of him. It is still a mystery whether Pogba knew the content inside the bottle was non-alcoholic or not. So, let us leave aside such a conjecture for the time being.
Now, the question doing the round is: are these stunts appropriate for the sporting events, which survive a great deal on the sponsorship from these brands? If sportspersons start showing their disdain towards certain brands in public, then it would discourage other corporate entities from financially backing such events. As a result of the Ronaldo act, £2.8 billion of market value was wiped off Coca-Cola within hours. However, Heineken did not face any adverse consequences post the Pogba incident. None of these brands will suffer in the long run, but sports in totality might bear the brunt as a consequence of these unsavory episodes going forward.
Whether these acts of famous sports personalities were appropriate or not is something the governing body of the game would answer better. However, it would be interesting to see how UEFA responds to this situation. The UEFA is very protective of its sponsors, as it has brought on board lucrative brands such as TikTok, Qatar Airways and Vivo for Euro 2020. The body would want these alliances with corporates to flourish if its flagship global tournament is to expand further. Hence, it goes without saying that sporting events need sponsors as they need star performers, so do not chop the proverbial feeding hand. Everyone has the right to dislike or protest against anything but these expressions should be couched in subtlety, not in distaste.