A NEW Cristiano Ronaldo statue has sparked fury from locals in India.

Protestors in Goa are angry the Manchester United icon was chosen as his country Portugal ruled the area for more than 400 years until 1961.

The brass tribute to Ronaldo aims to promote the growth of football in Western India.

But some campaigners say it's 'totally not acceptable' and stirs up political tensions – whereas an Indian footballer could be used instead.

Hundreds of locals saw the 900-pound statue of ex-Real Madrid hero Ronaldo unveiled in a beach village park of Calangute in the Panaji city.

Many carried black flags to object to the Ronaldo monument.

Goa state government minister Michael Lobo is behind the statue, citing a desire to guide local youngsters towards sport, especially football.

Lobo said: "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.

“We have installed Cristiano Ronaldo's statue here so boys and girls at a very young age to get inspiration.

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"We want them to feel inspired. So that, the love and passion for football will grow.

"When we talk about football, we talk about Cristiano Ronaldo."

But campaigners are furious a player from a country that once occupied Goa was picked ahead of other options.

Protestors chanted: "Say no to Cristiano Ronaldo's idol at Calangute".

One told our reporter: "We're protesting against the country where he [Ronaldo] actually belongs to.

"Goa was the colony for centuries and having his statue is totally not acceptable."

But one fan there responded: "That had happened long back and we should move forward as a state to make most in the football.

"The world is looking at Ronaldo and why can't we?"

And Lobo claimed critics of the statue were simply anti-football.

He said: "They just hate football and want nothing good favouring the younger generation.

The game has surged in popularity in West coast region Goa, although of course cricket remains the No1 sport in India overall.

With India itself liberated from British control in 1947, the country freed Goa from Portuguese rule 14 years later.

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