Why a Cristiano Ronaldo statue in India is proving so controversial

A new statue of Cristiano Ronaldo in Goa, a state on the west coast of India, is generating controversy.

Local officials have said the statue in the city of Calangute is meant to inspire local youth to follow his path to footballing stardom. But others have objected to the bust of the Manchester United star, saying it is a reminder of Goa’s colonial past and imploring officials to consider a statue of an Indian football hero instead.

“This is for the first time that the statue of Cristiano Ronaldo has come up in India. This is nothing but to inspire our youth,” Goa minister Michael Lobo told ANI. “If you want to take football to another level then this is what young boys and girls will look forward to, taking selfies and looking at the statue and getting inspired to play.”

MORE: Why is Man United known as the Red Devils?

But some were not happy to see a statue of a Portugal star due to Goa’s history as a Portuguese colony until 1961.

“There are so many great footballers from Calangute like Bruno Coutinho and Yolanda D’Souza, who have brought laurels to India by playing football at the international level. Why couldn’t their statues be installed? They are from Calangute. Why [has] the Portuguese footballer’s statue been installed?” said Calangute constituency forum president Premanand Divkar.

It’s also not exactly the most striking representation of the Manchester United star, as the bright gold Ronaldo in mid-kick appears like a more generic soccer player.

MORE: Man United players labeled ‘whingebags’ by former captain

The recent episode in India is not the first time a statue of Ronaldo has led to backlash. In 2017, a statue of the footballer was unveiled at the airport in his home region of Madeira, only to be widely mocked for its strange appearance.

The statue was eventually removed and replaced.