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Drink water says Ronaldo as he puts Coca Cola bottles out of sight. Juventus talisman Cristiano Ronaldo is not the first sports star to reject a soft drinks brand, in 2017, Virat Kohli, the captain of the Indian cricket team rejected a multi-million deal with the Pepsi corporation.
When Portuguese skipper Cristiano Ronaldo’s removed two Coca-Cola bottles from his table during a press conference at the Euros on Monday in Budapest, no one could have imagined just how significant the move would be. By the time the Juventus forward had finished talking to reporters, the obnoxious pro-Black Lives Matter drink giant’s value was already shrinking. By Wednesday, the company and its eye-rolling investors had witnessed around $4 billion shaved from its value.
Ronaldo can’t be bought. As soon as the football legend took his seat, he sneered at the glass bottles before moving them out of sight; he then held up a bottle of water and exclaimed ‘Agua!’
Coca-Cola caused controversy and dismay when it mounted a campaign urging its audience to ‘Be Less White’. One can imagine the uproar in the unlikely event Coca-Cola had run a marketing campaign urging its audience to ‘Be less Black’.
The Australian Associated Press reported that Ronaldo’s gesture had an immediate impact on Coca-Cola’s value as the American corporation’s share price dropped from $56.10 to $55.22. Coca-Cola’s market value has tanked to $238 billion from $242 billion in the last couple of days.
Ronaldo’s influence reaches far beyond dictating football matches; the former Manchester United star has nearly 300 million followers on Instagram, 140 million followers on Facebook, and more than 92 million followers of Twitter.
A Coca-Cola One spokesperson lamely said on Tuesday: ‘Everyone is entitled to their drink preferences. Different people have different tastes and needs.’
A spokesperson for Euro 2020 said: ‘Players are offered water, alongside Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, on arrival at our press conferences.’
The 36-year-old striker has revealed in the past that he doesn’t like his son’s habit of drinking Coca-Cola and eating chips.
‘My son has potential. We’ll see if he will become a great footballer. Sometimes he drinks Coke and eats crisps and it irritates me. I just want him to be the best in whatever he chooses to do. I always tell him, hard work is the most important,’ Ronaldo said in a Twitter post after winning the Player of the Century award in December 2020.
There have been incidents in the past when superstars refused to sign endorsement deals with soft drinks brands. Virat Kohli, the skipper of Indian men’s cricket team decided against signing a six-year deal with Coca Cola’s competitor Pepsi in 2017.
‘If I myself won’t drink such things, I won’t urge others to consume it, just because I am getting money out of it,’ Kohli had told local media at the time.
Before Kohli, former All England Badminton champion and India’s national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand and Rio Olympics silver medallist P. V. Sindhu turned down offers from such brands. However, Ronaldo’s move is the first snub of a major tournament sponsor to be recorded on live television.
Former Indian midfielder Abdul Khalique told media, ‘It’s something only Ronaldo could have done because he’s known for his bluntness. Nowadays, not just footballers, almost every sportsperson has become extremely health conscious because of the physical demands of the game. So, whatever Ronaldo did wasn’t entirely wrong.’
On Tuesday, Ronaldo became the all-time record goalscorer at the European Championships after scoring a brace in Portugal’s emphatic 3-0 win over Hungary. The Portuguese skipper surpassed French great Michel Platini, who scored a total of nine goals at the Euros. CR7 now has 11 goals in the prestigious tournament.
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