A statue of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has sparked controversy in the Indian state of Goa, with residents objecting to a Portuguese footballer being honoured instead of a player from India.
Michael Lobo, a minister in the Goa state government, on Wednesday tweeted that the statue is aimed at promoting football as a sport and to inspire young people to play the game.
“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 later said.
Instead, the day after the unveiling of the 400kg statue in Goa’s main city of Panaji, protesters carrying black flags converged on the site to protest, according to reports.
Not only were the protesters angry at the decision to honour a foreign footballer, but the fact that the choice had been a player from Portugal was seen as a particular affront, given that the European country occupied Goa as a colony for centuries, only leaving 60 years ago.
While cricket remains the most popular sport in India overall, football enjoys more popularity in some areas such as Goa.