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16 Jun, 2021 08:27

Sponsor wars: Devout Muslim Pogba mimics Ronaldo Coca-Cola dig by moving bottle of Heineken beer – even though it’s non-alcoholic

Sponsor wars: Devout Muslim Pogba mimics Ronaldo Coca-Cola dig by moving bottle of Heineken beer – even though it’s non-alcoholic

Paul Pogba has become the latest megastar to move a drink at a Euro 2020 press conference, following in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo by shifting a bottle of Heineken beer after France beat Germany in their tournament opener.

Portugal captain Ronaldo caused a huge stir before his record-breaking performance against Hungary, looking unimpressed as he moved two bottles of Coca-Cola that had been placed next to him at a press call table and replacing them with a bottle of water.

Now Pogba, who was named man of the match in his country's impressive 1-0 victory over Germany in Munich, has followed suit by repositioning a beverage that was placed next to him for his post-match duties.

That has sparked speculation that Pogba may have been unwilling to endorse the product because he is a Muslim, which would mean he would consider alcohol forbidden as part of beliefs that he described as "everything" after converting in 2019.

Pogba seemed happy enough to leave two bottles of Coca-Cola and a bottle of water, positioned either side of him before he sat down, as they were – but he attempted to move the Heineken, which was a version of the beer containing no alcohol, to his right and out of shot before placing it on the floor under the table.

Huge companies clamor to have their names associated with top clubs and players while millions of people around the world are watching, creating the familiar sight of ripped athletes posing next to brands that it is difficult to imagine them personally consuming.

The high-profile shunnings could represent a worrying trend for sports sponsors. Ronaldo's move, which was thought to be a dietary recommendation by the notoriously health-conscious veteran, reportedly cost Coca-Cola $4 billion almost immediately on the stock market.

Ronaldo has previously said that he was irritated by his son drinking Coca-Cola, while Pogba is perhaps less likely to speak out against fizzy drinks because of his sponsorship deal with Pepsi, where he is a key signing for the brand alongside Barcelona legend Lionel Messi.

Speaking as part of an advertising campaign that also involved Messi, England youngster Jadon Sancho and top female footballer Shanice van de Sanden in February, the Manchester United midfielder said it was "great to be back again for another year with Pepsi."

Fans on social media were split by the footage of his Heineken intervention. "Player power at play here," said one cynic. "Same thing CR7 did.

"In my opinion, it's ridiculous. The products of the tournament sponsors are being de-marketed by these players.

"UEFA must check this baseless show of power by the players."

Another said: "It’s just annoying. Just answer your questions and be out of there in less than no time.

"You don’t even need to touch it. This removal of sponsors' products is a little too much."

Pogba had an eventful evening as World Cup holders France began their Euro 2020 group stage campaign with a deserved victory over their rival European heavyweights.

The 28-year-old was involved in a startling flashpoint when Germany's Antonio Rudiger appeared to move his mouth towards his back, leading to accusations that the Chelsea defender had attempted to bite Pogba.

Also on rt.com Cristiano Ronaldo replaces Coca-Cola with water bottles at Euro 2020 press conference – and NFL star Tom Brady backs him (VIDEO)