Euro 2020 sponsors Coca-Cola and Heineken found themselves in the headlines for all the wrong reasons last week after Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba removed the beverage bottles from their press conference tables. The gestures were small, but they stirred up enough controversy to lead many to believe that the brands have suffered massive economic damage.

In particular, while the direct connection can't actually be made, it was widely reported that The Coca-Cola company lost four billion dollars due to a massive drop in share value shortly after Ronaldo removed Coke bottles from his table.

Pogba meanwhile, removed bottles of Heineken from his own press conference table. UEFA has taken a soft stance to the incidents, stating that players are given their choice of beverage at the start of press conferences. It appears as though the players will be avoiding any punishment, which US based sport sponsorship experts see as a dangerous precedent.

According to research made by Spanish publication Marca, UEFA has shown a lack of power to control elite athletes. Carlos Canto, CEO of SPSG consulting said, "If something like this happened in the NFL or the NBA, the player would have been punished. They have a very strict discipline regimen, you can't do something like that."

He went on to point out that UEFA, who received the sponsorship money, had a responsibility to the sponsors to prevent incidents like this from happening. "If I were Coca-Cola, I would immediately call [UEFA] to say, 'You have to protect me'," he said.

Cinto Arjam, founder of CA Sports Marketing, thinks that UEFA's response or lack of it, is effectively giving other players the go signal to do the same during their future engagements. However, he pointed out that footballers have to take their responsibilities to sponsors more seriously.

"What footballers don't understand is that although they want to send a good message, there is another reality: the footballer is employed by his national team to participate in a tournament like this and he must accept the rules of the game. Among them, there are sponsors and each national team must meet the sponsorship commitments," he said.

It remains to be seen if UEFA will take any further action.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo now has a record 11 European Championship goals after his brace in Portugal's 3-0 win over Hungary POOL / BERNADETT SZABO