The regional president of Madeira has described critics of the renaming of the island’s airport in honour of Cristiano Ronaldo of “a lack of manners.”
Last year, it was announced that the airport would be renamed the Cristiano Ronaldo Aeropuerto after the Real Madrid star — born in the Madeiran capital Funchal — had captained Portugal to the 2016 European Championship.
The renaming will take place on March 29 after Portugal host Sweden in a friendly in Funchal — the first time Ronaldo has played an official senior match on his home island.
But some residents have condemned the decision to rename the airport after the Real Madrid star, while the Portuguese government launched a judicial inquiry after it was not consulted on the move.
Madeira regional government president Miguel Albuquerque told A Bola it was right to honour “a great Madeirense.”
“I believe that calling this into question is a lack of manners and a stupidity,” he said. “It is a proposition to recognise a great sportsman, a great Portuguese.”
Albuquerque dismissed the idea that his regional government did not have the authority to make the decision, saying: “We have paid for the airport.
“The airport is the property of the autonomous region of Madeira. I should ask for permission to do this? From who?
“We do not recognise these complaints, which we consider not at all elegant.”
Madeira resident Sibil Soares launched an internet petition against the renaming, which received 2,547 signatures.
The petition claimed the renaming was “disproportionate and lacks a plausible justification.”
In recent years, Ronaldo has received a number of awards from the Madeira authorities, including the Medalla de Merito de la Asamblea Legislativa, the region’s highest honour.
The city’s landmark waterside square has also become known as the Praca CR7, as it is now home to Ronaldo’s personal museum, a bronze statue of the player and the Pestana CR7 Funchal hotel.
“At this rate, soon they will announce that Madeira is going to be called Ronaldo Island,” one signatory of the petition wrote.