A large brass statue of Cristiano Ronaldo which was unveiled at a park in Goa’s beach village of Calangute, has created a stir in the coastal state over the footballer’s Portuguese linkage.
The statue, which was inaugurated on Tuesday, with the aim of inspiring youngsters to emulate the star Portugese footballer, triggered black flag protests at the site, with protesters accusing the state authorities of neglecting local football legends like Arjuna award winner and former India football team captain Bruno Coutinho, who also hails from Calangute.
Local BJP MLA and Ports Minister, Michael Lobo, tried to defend the installation of the 410-415 kg brass statue: “This is the first statue of Cristiano Ronaldo in India. This is nothing but to inspire our youth. If you want to take football to the another level, then this is what will inspire boys and girls by looking at him, taking selfies with him.
“We require good infrastructure for our boys and girls to go there and play. Statue is only to inspire. We want good grounds from the government, good infrastructure and good coaches,” he said.
Meanwhile, owner of popular nightclub, Titos in Calangute, Ricardo D’Souza, has said that statues of local football icons like Bruno Coutinho and Samir Naik should have been installed instead.
“Very disappointed to hear of the statue of Ronaldo being erected. Learn to take pride in our own icons like Samir Naik and Bruno Coutinho,” he said.
At the unveiling ceremony, some right-wing demonstrators also alleged that erecting a statue of Ronaldo, a Portuguese national, was an insult to Goa, especially when the state is celebrating its 60th anniversary of liberation from Portuguese rule which spanned 451 years.
“To erect a statue of a Portuguese footballer this year is sacrilegious. We condemn this. There are many freedom fighters in Goa who have been insulted. If Lobo wanted to erect ‘footballers statues, he should have erected Bruno Coutinho’s statue,” right-wing activist Guru Shirodkar said.
(With IANS inputs)