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Cristiano Ronaldo statue in India sparks huge backlash

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A group of Goa residents are opposed to having a Portuguese footballer’s statue in the area.

Local officials in the state of Goa in India have unveiled a new statue of Cristiano Ronaldo. The formal explanation presents the project as a way of inspiring local youth to follow Ronaldo’s footsteps to stardom.

However, a group of the state’s residents have objected to the decision. They argue it reminds them of the region’s colonial past while suggesting the officials must remove the statue. According to the Times of India newspaper, during the statue’s inauguration, some people waved black flags in protest.

What do locals say?

Despite the controversy, the officials have insisted the statue will have a positive effect on the local youth. 

“This is for the first time that the statue of Cristiano Ronaldo has come up in India. This is nothing but to inspire our youth,” Goa minister Michael Lobo told ANI.

“If you want to take football to another level, then this is what young boys and girls will look forward to, taking selfies and looking at the statue and getting inspired to play.”

This December marks 60 years since Indian troops captured Goa from Portugal. Some interpret the unveiling of the statue as an insult to troops who fought for the region’s independence. They believe a statue of an Indian football hero must replace that of Ronaldo.

“There are so many great footballers from Calangute like Bruno Coutinho and Yolanda D’Souza, who have brought laurels to India by playing football at the international level. Why not one of their statues? They are from Calangute.” said Calangute constituency forum president Premanand Divkar.

“To erect a statue of a Portuguese footballer this year is sacrilegious and we condemn this,” an activist said (via IANS)

Portugal’s national team is popular in Goa, and due to its colonial past, many locals have either lived in Portugal or have family members there. Ronaldo himself is yet to make a comment or show any recognition of this controversial statue.