The world-renowned footballer pushed aside bottles of Coke -- a major sponsor of the European Cup -- during a press conference.

By Jelisa Castrodale
June 16, 2021
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On Monday, soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo participated in a press conference to talk about his Portugal side's chances in their opening match of the European Championship (Euro 2020) tournament. But before anyone asked a single question, Ronaldo grabbed the two bottles of Coca-Cola that had been placed in front of him and moved them out of the view of the cameras. Then he raised the bottle of water he'd brought into the press area, and mouthed the word "agua." 

The 36-year-old has long been known for his commitment to a strict diet and ultra-healthy lifestyle -- to the point where one of his former Manchester United teammates joked that you should "just say no" if Ronaldo invites you over for lunch because you'll be getting chicken and water, followed by a lengthy training session. 

Anyway, Ronaldo's soda snub might've been pretty on-brand for him, but it had some serious consequences for Coke, which is one of the sponsors of Euro 2020. (Yes, the tournament was supposed to be held last year, and yes, the organizers chose to keep its original name.) 

Portugal Training Session and Press Conference - UEFA Euro 2020: Group F
Credit: UEFA / Handout/Getty Images

According to The Guardian, the company's share price fell from $56.10 to $55.22 "almost immediately" after Ronaldo's press conference; as a result, the market value of Coca-Cola dropped by $4 billion, from $242 billion to $238 billion. (As of this writing, Coca-Cola's share price is $55.06.) 

A spokesperson for Euro 2020 told the outlet that players were offered either Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, or water before each press conference, adding that everyone was "entitled to their drink preferences." (France midfielder Paul Pogba also moved a bottle of Heineken away from his seat at his own pre-match press conference; as a practicing Muslim, he does not drink alcohol.) 

Some organizations praised Ronaldo's one-man anti-soda crusade. "It's great to see a role model like Ronaldo reject Coca Cola for water, setting a positive example for young fans and showing his disdain for a cynical marketing attempt to link him with a sugary drink," Britain's Obesity Health Alliance tweeted. Others remembered that, in 2013, Ronaldo had appeared in a TV commercial for a not-entirely-healthy KFC meal, complete with "free cheesy wedges" with every purchase of a Cristiano Ronaldo tumbler.

Portugal Training Session and Press Conference - UEFA Euro 2020: Group F
Credit: UEFA / Handout/Getty Images

If Ronaldo were going to start a beef with any cola brand, you'd think it would be Pepsi. In 2013, just before Sweden faced Portugal in a playoff match for World Cup qualification, Pepsi Sweden ran a weird ad campaign that featured a Ronaldo voodoo doll being subjected to all kinds of cartoonish abuse. The ads weren't well received by, uh, pretty much anyone in Portugal, and Pepsi apologized for "[putting] the sport or the spirit of competition in a negative light" and pulled the campaign. (It didn't bother Ronaldo: he had a hat-trick in Portugal's 3-2 win.) 

The Coca-Cola kerfuffle had a much bigger effect on the cola company than it did on Cristiano. He scored two in Portugal's opening round win against Hungary, and he became the top scorer in European Championship history. If he still toasts to his own massive list of accomplishments -- and there's a good chance that he does -- we can guess what isn't in that glass.