A new statue of Cristiano Ronaldo has been unveiled in Goa, India in the hope that it will inspire a new generation of football fans.
The Manchester United and Portugal striker has yet to comment publicly on the statue, four years after a bust on Ronaldo’s home island of Madeira was widely mocked when it opened in 2017.
There is hope among local officials that the statue will be an icon for others to look to and create a tangible bond with arguably one of the sport’s most respected and recognizable players.
For the love of football and at the request of our young people we have put the Cristiano Ronaldo statue in the park to inspire our kids to take football to higher levels. It was an honor to inaugurate the beautification of the open space, the landscape, the garden with foundations and walkway. pic.twitter.com/VU5uvlSlMT
– Michael Lobo (@ MichaelLobo76) December 28, 2021
Michael Lobo, Minister of the Legislative Assembly, said: “When it comes to football, we are talking about Cristiano Ronaldo.
“So we have installed this statue here so boys and girls at very, very young ages to get inspired, feel inspired and the love and passion for this game will grow.
“For the love of football and at the request of our young people we have put the statue of Cristiano Ronaldo in the park to inspire our kids to take football to higher levels.
“It was an honor to inaugurate the beautification of the open space, of the landscape, of the garden with foundations and walkway”.
The decision to choose to honor Ronaldo was not universally accepted 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 early 20th century when it was reclaimed by India.
However, Lobo believes critics are simply hindering 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 staunchest enemies of football,” said Lobo.
“They do not consider football a religion. Football is a game in which everyone is equal, regardless of caste, color, religion, etc.
“However, these people oppose with black flags. I can’t say anything about them and I just want to bow before them.”