Euro 2020: The conversation around Individual’s Rights and Brand Placements

The 2020 UEFA European Football Championship, popularly called the UEFA Euro 2020, or simply Euro 2020, is the 16th UEFA European Championship. This had been originally scheduled for June 2020, but got pushed to June 2021 when Covid-19 struck. The UEFA Euro is one of the most popular football competitions in the world; featuring 24 teams and lasting a full month, it is almost as exciting as the World cup.

The UEFA 2020 only commenced a few days ago, yet it is currently being rocked by the dilemma of some of the football players openly antagonising brands and chucking off their products from the visibility of the public at their press conferences. This is pretty confusing as these brands pay a lot of money to have their products on display at these events. 

Coca-Cola is one of the main sponsors of UEFA’s Euro 2020 tournament, so it came to everyone as a rude shock when Cristiano Ronaldo appeared for an interview on Monday, the 14th of June, a day before Portugal’s 3-0 victory over Hungary, and moved the two bottles of Coca-Cola on display out of sight before reaching for a bottle of water. This small action is being reported to have impacted negatively on the company’s market value as it descended from $242 billion to $238 billion. 

Paul Pogba from France went on to replicate this action just a day after as he pushed away a bottle of Heineken that had been placed before him when he went for his press briefing after his match. Although this didn’t have any effect on the market value of the brand, it still makes one wonder why this bottle couldn’t have been left untouched. Manuel Locatelli did the same only a few days after.

This trend has sparked a lot of conversations around the world as there seems to be two different parties to this conversation, with one party speaking about how these footballers have the right to protect their images and reject certain being associated with certain brands that do not align with their moral ethics, meanwhile, many others have pointed out the ridiculousness of scorning these brands as they already paid for these products to be displayed at these spots and these players are still beneficiaries of the funds paid for the placement of these products.

It is also a slippery slope as it makes you wonder where you draw the line. Would Cristiano Ronaldo also go further to try to advocate for the removal of pitchside advertisements of brands that he doesn’t agree with? If you have issues with a product, it is only normal to disagree with the trademark too. Strategic placements are everything. Brand managers cannot limit the display of their products to just trademarks on a backdrop.If you have issues with the product, you should also disagree with the trademark.

Observers have asked that we must be careful not to strip the players of their rights to accept or reject certain products but it is important to note that these players are not being forced to interact or publicise the products of these companies. And by sitting there, they are not interacting or publicising these products. Pogba for example,  must have done a plethora of press conferences with Heineken in the backdrop, yet no one watches the conferences and says that he endorses Heineken. Since they don’t have any duty to interact, it is farfetched to then say that the competition is imposing a duty on them and taking away their ‘rights’….whatever that means.

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