A statue of Cristiano Ronaldo has been unveiled in Goa to inspire a new generation of football fans in India. Local officials hope the statue will be an icon for others to look up to and create a tangible link to Manchester United and Portugal forward.
Michael Lobo, Minister for Legislative Assembly, said that when people talk about football, they talk about Cristiano Ronaldo. “So we have installed this statue here so boys and girls at a very, very young age to get inspiration, they feel inspired and the love and passion for this game will grow,” he said. “For the love of football and at the request of our youth we put up Cristiano Ronaldo’s statue in the park to inspire our youngsters to take football to greater heights.”
The minister added that it was an honor to inaugurate the beautification of open space, landscaping, garden with foundation, and walkway. The statue costs about Rs 12 lakh and weighs around 410 kg. It has been built over a period of three years. The statue’s installation was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the footballer’s statue has received a fair share of backlash over colonialism. It should be noted that Goa was under the rule of the Portuguese empire for hundreds of years. This state was only annexed to India in the 20th century. Critics see Ronaldo’s nationality as a reminder of the colonial past.
In regards to the criticism, Lobo said this is not the first time that the statue of Cristiano Ronaldo has come up in India. “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,” he said. “There are some people who have opposed the installation of the statue and I think they are the staunch football haters.”
The minister said the haters don’t consider football as a religion. “Football is a game where everyone is equal, irrespective of caste, color and religion etc.” Some football fans have taken to Twitter to say that the officials could have installed a statue of an Indian player, like Suni Chhetri, instead.
“We should be supporting Indian football so that maybe in our lifetime, they can represent the country in the World Cup, if that happens,” a fan tweeted. Another said the statue of a Portuguese player in the capital of Goa is “preposterous”.