Paul Pogba removed an alcohol free Heineken bottle during a press conference
European Championship organisers have agreed not to place bottles of alcohol-free Heineken in front of Muslim players in a victory for Paul Pogba.
Telegraph Sport can exclusively reveal teams are being asked whether players and managers appearing at press conferences would object to sitting next to Heineken 0.0 on religious grounds.
Organisers are doing so to avoid a repeat of the scenes that saw Pogba remove a bottle of the drink from view after being named man of the match during France’s opening win against Germany.
That led to there being no Heineken 0.0 being placed in front of team-mate Karim Benzema, who is also Muslim, during his own man-of-the-match press conference following his side’s 2-2 draw against Portugal on Wednesday night.
Benzema did still appear in front of an advertising hoarding promoting the drink and with a man-of-the-match trophy sponsored by Heineken.
Uefa warned last week that it would begin fining teams if players continued to move drinks provided by its sponsors during press conferences after Cristiano Ronaldo’s removal from view of two Coca-Cola bottles sparked a trend of players doing so.
But a clear distinction has been drawn between those who object to being pictured with a primarily alcohol brand on religious grounds and the likes of Ronaldo, who had urged people to shun unhealthy Coke for water.
Heineken, which has been approached for comment, said following the Pogba incident: “Far from promoting the consumption of alcohol, Heineken 0.0 is helping consumers decrease their alcohol intake, allowing them to substitute for great tasting alcohol-free beer when it suits them, giving our consumers greater choice.”
Euros – Road to the final
Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane last week defended Coca-Cola’s involvement in football as the England manager and captain refused to join the Ronaldo-led protest against it on health grounds. Coke is a sponsor of the Football Association, while Kane is also an ambassador for the soft drinks giant.
Southgate, who has also promoted the FA’s McDonald’s-backed community work, said: “There are lots of sponsors in sport and the impact of their money at all levels helps sport to function, particularly grassroots sport in our country requires a lot of investment and, without these companies investing, it’s very difficult to have the facilities we need.
“We are mindful of obesity and health but everything can be done in moderation. Anything partaken of in moderation is rarely a problem. I understand the concerns people have and the two guys [Ronaldo and Pogba] have different rationale for their stances they took. But there’s always a bigger picture.”
Kane added: “From my point of view, the sponsors are entitled to have what they want if they have paid the money to do so. It’s not something I have thought about too much, I am more focused on tomorrow.”
Coca-Cola bottle thrown at Cristiano Ronaldo days after press conference snub
Days after staging a public protest against Coca-Cola, Cristiano Ronaldo was forced to take evasive action to avoid being struck by a bottle of the soft drink as he celebrated scoring for Portugal against France last night.
Last week, Ronaldo courted controversy when he removed two bottles of Coca-Cola during a Portugal pre-match press conference and said: “Drink water.”
Coca-Cola are among the biggest sponsors of the tournament and Ronaldo’s snub wiped £2.8bn off their value.
As Coca-Cola is one of the main drinks sold in stadiums during the European Championship, thirsty fans have little option but to purchase the drink.
And after scoring his second penalty of the match against France in their thrilling Group F match, Ronaldo celebrated in front of French fans.
However, his presence led to numerous missiles being thrown at the direction of him and his Portugal team-mates and among them was a Coca-Cola bottle.
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates as a bottle of Coca-Cola flies in his direction
Credit: ROBERT MICHAEL/AVALON
Numerous missles were thrown in Cristiano Ronaldo's direction as he celebrated
Credit: ROBERT MICHAEL/AVALON
Cristiano Ronaldo is hit by something after celebrating
The brace by Ronaldo saw him move to 109 goals in international football and go level with Iran’s Ali Daei at the top of the all-time list.
After the match, Daei congratulated Ronaldo on Instagram, saying he is "honoured" that his record will pass to a "great champion of football".
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates reaching the last 16
The goals also ensured Portugal’s place in the last 16, where they will now face tournament favourites Belgium on Sunday. It means the defending champions have just three days to prepare, compared to the Belgians, who last played on Monday, but Portugal coach Fernando Santos insists he doesn’t view the difference as a ‘handicap’.
"We improved a lot compared to the other game. Now we have to improve some more before we play Belgium. Any opponent will have difficulties against us because we are always able to score," he said.
"We have 48 hours less than them to get ready, but it doesn’t matter. We won’t be at a disadvantage. Rest is very important and we’ll have to make sure our players recover well so they are fresh. But we cannot view this as a handicap. We’ll analyse the Belgium team and prepare the game with the same goal as always, to progress."