Soccer star deals blow to Coca-Cola

Soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo made news in two ways on Tuesday — one soccer-related, one not. In soccer news, by scoring two goals against Hungary, Ronaldo became the all-time leading soccer in the history of the European Championship tournament. No player from any nation has scored as many goals in this major competition as Ronaldo.

In other news, Ronaldo snubbed Coca-Cola. He removed two Coke bottles from the table at his press conference. The market value of Coca-Cola then plummeted by $4 billion.

Why did Ronaldo remove the Coke bottles? Apparently for health-related reasons. Ronaldo advocates healthy nutrition. Coke isn’t good for you. Ronaldo punctuated the point by holding up a bottle of water and saying “water” in Portuguese.

Coca-Cola is a sponsor of Euro 2020. That’s why the bottles were there.

The company tried to put a good face on Ronaldo’s gesture. It stated that “everyone is entitled to their drink preferences” with different “tastes and needs.” What executives said privately was probably very different.

I’d like to think Ronaldo’s removal of the Coke bottles was related, at least in part, to Coke’s woke politics. However, no evidence of which I’m aware supports this hypothesis.

It’s possible that Ronaldo removed the Coke bottles in part as a protest against product placement, an obnoxious form of advertising that associates athletes with products they might well want nothing to do with (as in this case). But there’s no indication that Ronaldo is even aware of Coke’s intrusions into U.S. politics.

Ronaldo doesn’t discuss politics, at least not publicly. For example, he has never jumped on the “social justice” bandwagon. In this day and age, his unwillingness to do so might be considered something of a political statement.

In addition, Ronaldo purchased a luxury apartment at Trump Tower in New York (price tag, around $18.5 million). As far as I know, he has never commented publicly on Trump. But his willingness to do business with a high-profile, Trump-related enterprise shows, at a minimum, that he’s not a slave to political correctness.

Finally, it should be noted that Ronaldo’s parents named him after Ronald Reagan. His father admired the Gipper.

The family is strongly Catholic. Ronaldo is less so, but considers himself religious.

As a soccer player, Ronaldo rates as one of the best of all-time. He started out as an unstoppable winger and then reinvented himself as an unstoppable striker. He did enough in both incarnations to rate as a legend based on either one.

I never took to Ronaldo because as a young player for Manchester United, he was an incorrigible flopper. Fans used to sing “dive in a minute” to the tune of “Guantanamera” whenever he was on the ball. He also tried, successfully, to get his then-Man U teammate Wayne Rooney sent off in Portugal’s quarter-final match against England at the 2006 World Cup.

Ronaldo and Rooney buried that hatchet immediately, and Ronaldo flops less these days. He grew on me as his greatness became ever more manifest.

Now that he has dealt a blow to Coke, I appreciate Ronaldo all the more, regardless of his motive in removing those bottles.

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