The statue of Cristiano Ronaldo in Goa
The statue of Cristiano Ronaldo in Goa Image Credit: Twitter

A statue of Portuguese football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo’s statue has been installed in Calangute, Goa,

It was commissioned to inspire the youth and take football to next level across Goa — where it is hugely popular — and India.

However the replica of the Manchester United and Real Madrid legend is dividing opinion.

Goa — a former Portuguese colony — was liberated 60 years ago, and critics say local footballers should be honoured instead of international stars.

“Very disappointed to hear of the statue of Ronaldo being erected. Learn to take pride in our own icons like Samir Naik and Bruno Coutinho,” a local Goan told the IANS news agency.

Some waved black flags in protest at the statue’s inauguration. Ronaldo and the Portugal national team are popular in Goa and many locals have either previously lived in Portugal or have family there.

Others feel insulted that the statue is being installed as Goa celebrates 60 years of independence from Portugal.

The statue weighs around 410kg was installed with the aim of motivating the younger generation towards sports and following their dreams.

“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. 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. The government, municipality’s job is to provide good infrastructure, good football grounds, good futsal grounds. We need a good infrastructure for our boys and girls to go there and play,” Goa minister Michael Lobo said.

“The statue is just to inspire. In this way only, we can move ahead in the field of sports. Being such a big country, we are far behind many countries in the terms of football. There are some people who have opposed the installation of the statue and I think they are the staunch football haters. They don’t consider football as a religion. Football is a game where everyone is equal, irrespective of caste, colour, religion.”