Goa celebrates Portugal's Euro win, but with a rider

Panaji: Portugal may have beaten France by a single goal in the Euro Cup final in Paris on Sunday, but a brace of contentious, "nationalistic" issues are brewing in Goa, a former Portuguese colony. Even as the shock defeat of France triggered a wave of delight in Goa, splashing over the beach state's pubs, public spaces and social media, there were also unmistakable traces of sneer at the jubilation fuelled by issues like dual citizenship and medium of instruction. Political overtones in the post-match frenzy were evident on social media, with posts by former MLA and lawyer Radharao Gracias trying to ward off hecklers needling Goans supporting Portugal. "Football fans had the limited opportunity last night to support either Portugal or France in the Euro Cup final. No other choice was available. Suddenly there are comments all over (mostly from affiliates of Sangh Parivar) calling Goans supporting Portugal as 'anti-nationals'. The question is, would these Goans be nationalists if they were to support France," Gracias asked. Goa was colonised by the Portuguese for 451 years until it was liberated by the Indian Army in 1961. The vigorous arguments over the dual citizenship could be credited as one of the reasons for the resurgence of the nationalist sentiment here. The issue revolves around the fate of several thousand Goans who have opted for Portuguese citizenship thanks to unique Portuguese citizenship laws that allows natives born in Portugal-held Goa to avail it. While the Union Home Ministry now wants Goans settled in Portugal to choose between Indian or Portuguese citizenship, many like Nagesh Karmali, spokesperson for the Goa Freedom Fighters Association, even want the Portuguese consulate shifted from Goa.  "Portugal cannot be luring Goans like this. They are trying to de-stabilise us by offering Goans Portuguese citizenship," Karmali said. A protracted debate on whether English or regional languages should be the medium of instruction in state's primary schools has also whipped up nationalist sentiment, with backers of regional languages attacking the Goa Church, which is seen as a harbinger of foreign, specifically European, influences. But for purists like Menino Fernandes, a naturalised Portuguese citizen of Goan origin, the victory sealed by Eder's goal, was a moment to be proud of. "I am proud and happy that my country Portugal made it with a wonderful play. They played distinctly and confidently. Both defence and attack were wonderful and Eder made it for us," Fernandes told IANS. A few odd voices, like Goa-based businessman Udit Golechha, also rued the fact that 'Le Blues' lost due to poor refereeing. "Few wrong fouls were given like Eder's handball and France paid the price. The outcome would have been different had been the handball not been given wrongly," Golechha said, adding that unlike his favourite team France, Portugal had an easy route to the final. All said and done, Goa's fascination for its former coloniser has preceded legendary Portuguese striker Eusebio and will easily outlast the glittering career of Portugal's 'captain talisman' Cristiano Ronaldo.