Ronaldinho lost his £500,000 a year contract with Coca-Cola after he was caught drinking Pepsi

As he spoke to reporters on that momentous day in July 2012, then Coca-Cola ambassador Ronaldinho made a decision that would cost him a serious amount of money.

The former Barcelona playmaker was only days into his spell at Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro when he was plonked in front of the media for a question and answer session.

At the time, Ronaldinho was sponsored by Coca-Cola and according to reports, he was earning $760,000 [£500,000] per-year from the deal that was set to expire in 2014.

With all that in mind, his decision to sit beside two cans of Pepsi, one of Coca-Cola’s main competitors, during the press conference was a defining moment in his journey with the drinks brand.

It was seen by many as harsh considering Mineiro were sponsored by Pepsi at the time, and the cans were thought to be put on tables during press conferences as procedure.

But rumours soon emerged that Ronaldinho took a sip from one of the cans during the infamous Q&A session.

Days later and Marcelo Pontes, the Coca-Cola marketing chief, told Brazilian newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo: “The fact that the player has appeared with a can of Pepsi was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

He added: “The sponsorship had become embarrassing.”

Coca-Cola also released a statement on the incident, saying: “Coca-Cola recognises the career and value of Ronaldinho. However due to recent developments it has become impossible to continue the partnership.”

At the time, ‘Dinho’ had just left Flamengo after suing the club for unpaid wages and bonuses but the Brazilian side hit back with claims that he was unprofessional and showed a lack of commitment during his time at the Maracanã.

He was also accused of drinking too much, being lazy in training sessions and going out to nightclubs too often.

The 2002 World Cup winner went on to make over 50 appearances for Mineiro during a two-year stint at the club before finishing his career at Mexican side Querétaro and Fluminense.

Image credit: Alamy

The Brazilian was arrested in Paraguay in March 2020 alongside his older brother, Roberto de Assis Moreira, for using a fake passport to enter the country illegally to attend a charity event and book promotion.

Ronaldinho was held in custody with Roberto and would spend time in prison, which included him taking part in a futsal tournament behind bars.

The former Barcelona forward and his brother were released from Paraguayan prison in August 2020 after they agreed a plea deal.

Ronaldinho and Roberto were forced to pay fines of $90,000 and $110,000 respectively, according to reports.

The ex-Brazil international’s woes were also evident when reports emerged that he had only £5 to his name at the time and was “close to bankruptcy.”

He has since turned his life around, and recently appeared in Gerard Pique’s ‘Kings League’ tournament.

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