A new statue of Cristiano Ronaldo has created fury among locals in India.
Protesters in Goa are angry that the Manchester United icon was chosen as their country because Portugal ruled the region for more than 400 years, until 1961.
The Brass Tribute to Ronaldo is designed to promote the development of football in western India.
But some campaigners termed it as ‘not entirely acceptable’ as it caused political tension and wanted an Indian footballer to be represented instead.
Hundreds of locals unveiled a 900-pound statue of former Real Madrid hero Ronaldo on Wednesday at a beach village park in Calangute, Panaji city.
Many waved black flags to object to the Ronaldo memorial as Goa has a strong feeling for the time before Portugal became a colony.
Goa state government minister Michael Lobo is behind the statue, citing his desire to guide local youth towards sports, especially football.
Lobo said: “For the love of football and at the request of our youth, we put up a statue of Cristiano Ronaldo in the park to inspire our youth to take football to greater heights.
“It was an honor to inaugurate the open space, landscaping, gardens with foundations and beautification of walkways.
“We have installed the statue of Cristiano Ronaldo here so that boys and girls can get inspiration at a very young age.
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“We want them to feel inspired. So that, the love and passion for football grows.
“When we talk about football, we talk about Cristiano Ronaldo.”
But campaigners are angry with a player from a country that once occupied Goa and was chosen ahead of other potential cnadidates.
The protesters raised the slogan: “Say no to Cristiano Ronaldo’s statue in Calangute”.
One told me: “We are protesting against the country where it is [Ronaldo] actually belongs to.
“Goa was colonized for centuries and having an idol of it is totally unacceptable.”
But a fan there replied: “It was a long time ago and we as a state must move forward to make the most in football.
The world is watching Ronaldo and why can’t we?
And Lobo claimed that the idol’s critics were just anti-football.
He added: “They just hate football and don’t want anything too good to favor the younger generation.
The sport has grown in popularity in Goa, although cricket certainly remains the No. 1 sport in India.
After 14 years of Indian independence, the country finally freed the west coast region of Goa from Portuguese rule 60 years ago.
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