The newly installed statue of Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo in Calangute
A statue of Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo has caused a stir in the southern Indian state of Goa, with locals accusing officials of callousness for honoring a sports star from the region’s former colonial power.
Protesters with black flags gathered at the scene after the statue was unveiled this week in the city of Calangute.
Micky Fernandes, a former Indian international player from Goa, said the choice was “painful” and a “hangover” from Portuguese dominance.
Michael Lobo, a local minister for India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, told AFP that the goal was to inspire young people to excel not only within the country but internationally.
“If you pursue your dream and are passionate about it, then you can achieve a higher goal. This is what we have written on the plate.”
But Portugal’s then military dictatorship only gave up Goa after an Indian army invasion and a two-day war in 1961.
Unlike most of India, many Goans prefer soccer to cricket, and many support Portugal in international tournaments such as the World Cup.
It is not the first time that a statue of Ronaldo, 36, has caused a setback.
str-stu / axn