Panaji: Cristiano Ronaldo may be an international superstar, but why have a statue of the Portuguese footballer in Goa?
Protesters with black flags demanded an explanation from officials who unveiled the statue in Calangute.
Local people are aghast that officials can be so insensitive as to honour a sportsperson who is from the former colonial power which ruled Goa.
They are livid that the authorities had ignored multiple sportspersons from the region who had brought Goa glory and chosen a footballer from Portugal, which granted Goa independence in 1961.
Former India international Micky Fernandes felt the decision was ‘hurtful’ and smacked of a ‘hangover’ from Portuguese rule.
“Ronaldo is the best player in the world, but we should have a statue of ainister football player from Goa,” Micky was quoted as saying by AFP.
“I follow Portugal too, but when we have our own players, we cannot put up a statue of someone from outside,” Micky opined.
Michael Lobo, a minister in the BJP-ruled state, said that the idea was to inspire young people to excel not just within the country but internationally as well.
“All boys and girls who want to make football a career will get inspired by people like Cristiano Ronaldo… If you pursue your dream and you’re passionate about it, you can reach a higher goal. This is what we have written on the plaque,” Lobo said.
While India gained independence from the British in 1947, Portugal’s then military dictatorship relinquished Goa following a two-day war with Indian army in 1961.
Unlike the majority of India, Goans’ favourite sport is football.