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Why Cristiano Ronaldo statue sparked protest in Goa, India

Cristiano Ronaldo Statue
Cristiano Ronaldo Statue in Goa, India. Photo/Sky Sports

Protests against a statue of Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo have erupted in Goa, India’s southernmost state.

Locals accuse government officials of being insensitive by honouring a former colonial authority’s sports star. Protesters waving black banners gathered at the statue’s unveiling site in Calangute, India, this week.

Protestors feel that Indian sportsmen should be honoured over those from the country that controlled Goa for 60 years prior to its independence from that country’s colonial administration.

People in Goa were outraged that administrators had snubbed indigenous athletes in favor of a Portuguese player, who had been in charge of the territory until 1961.

To celebrate “the passion of football” and “inspire our youth,” a local lawmaker tweeted a 400kg statue of Manchester United and Portugal forward Antonio Valencia.

Ex-Indian international Micky Fernandes called the decision “hurtful” and “a hangover” from the Portuguese dominance of the sport in his home state of Goa.

A statue of a Goan footballer, Fernandes opined to AFP, would be more appropriate. “Ronaldo is the best player in the world.”

In the words of local minister Michael Lobo of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the purpose was to inspire young people not only in India but around the world to achieve their full potential.

Those who want to make a career in football should be inspired by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lobo said.

Lobo said pursuing what you’re passionate about could help you attain personal goals faster.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo. Photo/News in 24

It’s not the first time that a statue of the 36-year-old Manchester United player has caused debate.

Goa’s colonial history made Portugal a popular team in the Indian state, where many people have strong ties to the European country. There were others who felt it was insensitive and improper for a statue commemorating the 60th anniversary of independence from Portuguese dominion to be unveiled just days after the celebration.

In the past, a statue of Ronaldo has received a lukewarm response. When Madeira’s main airport was renamed in honour of their hero in March 2017, people mocked a bronze bust of the player on the grounds.

They said that it didn’t look anything like their idol. Emanuel Santos, a Brazilian sculptor, said his work was just “a matter of taste.” After a request from Ronaldo’s family, the bust was replaced with a new one the following year.

One statue of the footballer outside his museum in Funchal, Madeira (where he is from) drew criticism in 2014 for emphasizing the athlete’s body. Asked how it made him feel, Ronaldo replied he was “very proud.”

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo after a Ballon d’Or award in the past. Photo/The Independent

For the first time in football history, Ronaldo earned more than $1billion in his career, coming from a poor, alcoholic family.

It has been said that some public people’ statues fail to portray their likeness. There was a “hint of Theresa May” about this year’s Diana, Princess of Wales bronze, according to several social media observers.

After a statue of Hollywood star, Maureen O’Hara was declared “inappropriate” and “not suitable for installation” in March, Cork County Council asked that a €33,000 funding be refunded.

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