BUCHAREST – Ukraine captain Andriy Yarmolenko became the latest player at the European Championship to tamper with sponsors’ drink bottles at a post-match press conference on Thursday, a behavior that has amused social media users but alarmed organizers.
As he sat down to speak to the media on Monday, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo moved aside bottles of Coca-Cola and purposefully grabbed water instead.
Following the snub, which was widely shared and viewed by millions across the world, the beverages company’s stock dropped 1.6 percent, losing roughly $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.
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“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.
The European Union’s regulatory body, UEFA, has condemned the players’ action, reminding teams that they have contractual duties to tournament sponsors.
Coca-Cola did not immediately respond to Yarmolenko’s actions, however, it did allude to a UEFA statement following the Ronaldo incident that detailed the company’s beverage portfolio, which included waters, isotonic sports drinks, juices, coffee, and tea.
Heineken has been silent on the situation.