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    UEFA asks Euro 2020 teams to stop removing sponsor bottles

    GENEVA (AP) — Reacting to a bottle-snatching trend at the European Championship started by Cristiano Ronaldo, players on the 24 teams have been asked to stop removing strategically placed sponsor drinks from the news conference platforms, UEFA said on Thursday.

    Ronaldo, Paul Pogba and Manuel Locatelli all removed sponsor bottles away from the view of cameras when taking their seats at official media sessions this week.

    Euro 2020 Tournament Director Martin Kallen said UEFA has “communicated with the teams regarding this matter”.

    “It is important because the revenues of the sponsors are important for the tournament and for European football,” Kallen said in a briefing.

    Pogba, who is Muslim and does not drink alcohol, objected to the distinctive green bottle of official Euro 2020 sponsor Heineken.

    Kallen said tournament rules require compliance with UEFA’s promises to sponsors, though players with religious objections “don’t need to have a bottle there”. Media managers at each of the 11 stadiums across Europe should also help with removing unwanted bottles ahead of the arrival of a player of Muslim faith.

    France’s Paul Pogba is challenged by Germany’s Antonio Ruediger and Robin Gosens during their Euro 2020 group F match. PHOTO: AP

    Pogba had to take questions in the interview room after being named best player in France’s 1-0 win over Germany on Tuesday.

    Ronaldo started the trend on Monday at a mandatory pre-game news conference by hiding two Coca-Cola bottles and replacing them with a water bottle, which was also one of the drink maker’s brands.

    A drop in Coca-Cola’s share price this week was attributed by some to Ronaldo’s snub, but without any evidence that the two things were connected.

    Locatelli copied the Portugal great on Wednesday after helping Italy beat Switzerland.

    It prompted UEFA to remind officials with the teams that players should respect the sponsors and the contributions they make to European football.

    While UEFA will not impose fines on individual players, Kallen said it was “always a possibility” that national federations get a financial penalty for further incidents.

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