A new statue of Cristiano Ronaldo has been unveiled in Goa, India in the hope it will inspire a new generation of football fans.
The Manchester United and Portugal forward has yet to comment publicly on the statue, four years after a bust in Ronaldo’s home island of Madeira was widely mocked when it was inaugurated in 2017.
There is hope among local officials that the statue will be an icon for others to look up to and create a tangible link to arguably one of the sport’s most respected and recognisable players.
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. It was an honour to inaugurate the beautification of open space, landscaping, garden with foundation & walkway. pic.twitter.com/VU5uvlSlMT
— Michael Lobo (@MichaelLobo76) December 28, 2021
Michael Lobo, Minister for Legislative Assembly, said: “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.
“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.
“It was an honour to inaugurate the beautification of open space, landscaping, garden with foundation and walkway.”
The decision to choose to honour Ronaldo has not been universally welcomed by some given Portugal’s colonial past in the region.
Goa was formally ruled under the Portuguese empire, with formal control only returned in the 20th century when it was reclaimed by India.
However, Lobo believes critics are simply standing in the way of steps to grow the sport in the area, no matter how symbolic the gesture appears.
“There are some people who have opposed the installation of the statue and I think they are the staunch football haters,” Lobo said.
“They don’t consider football as a religion. Football is a game where everyone is equal, irrespective of caste, colour, religion, etc.
“Still, these people are opposing it with black flags. I can’t say anything about them and just want to bow down to them.”