A little more than a month after leaving Flamengo over unpaid wages, Ronaldinho is the one being accused of breaching contracts as Coca-Cola ended his lucrative sponsorship deal less than a year after it was signed.
The breaking point for the R$1.5M ($737,400) a year deal that was to run through the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was apparently that Ronaldinho appeared with cans of Pepsi, a sponsor of his new club Atletico Mineiro, at press conferences.
From Sports Business Daily:
In the last month, Ronaldinho left Brasileiro's Flamengo FC, "the team with the largest fan base" in Brazil, sued the club for R$40M ($19.7M), and appeared at an introductory news conference with his new club Atletico Mineiro "surrounded by Pepsi cans." In a statement, Coca-Cola Brasil cited "recent events" as the reason for the break-up. With the decision, Ronaldinho will not receive any additional money from the company nor will the drink manufacturer have to pay a fine. Institution ESPM Marketing Dir Marcelo Pontes said, "The fact that the player appeared with a Pepsi can was the last drop for Coca-Cola, but it probably was not the only motive for the decision."
As previously stated, Pepsi is a sponsor of Atletico Mineiro, so their product's appearance at the club's official press conferences is likely not by Ronaldinho's choice (even though he did have a deal with Pepsi long before he signed with Coke).
But the fact that Brazil's largest fan base now feels alienated by 'Dinho, in addition to Flamengo releasing video of him bringing women back to the team hotel -- and don't forget his webcam masturbation show last November -- probably had a bit more to do with Coca-Cola's decision than the presence of a few Pepsis.