The Portuguese government has reportedly asked national airport management company ANA for its formal opinion on the name-change of Funchal airport in Madeira, to Cristiano Ronaldo Airport, in honour of one of the island’s most famous sons.
The Ministry for Planning and Infrastructures has, according to newspaper Público, questioned the legitimacy of the regional government’s decision to change the name, which is due to take place at the end of this month.
Público claims Minister Pedro Marques has requested ANA’s opinion regarding the name-change, announced by the head of Madeira’s regional government, Miguel Albuquerque, during the inauguration of the first Tivoli CR7 Hotel in Funchal last July, apparently without consulting Lisbon.
The new name is to be officially inaugurated on 29 March, a day after the match between Portugal and Sweden.
However, the newspaper states, the Minister’s doubts have not gone down well in Madeira despite the central government’s official line being one of brushing the matter off.
“We are officially unaware of any controversies, which we find odd and consider inelegant how they were put to us”, a source from Minister Albuquerque’s office told Público.
Meanwhile, the regional government stressed the airport is “property of the region” and that the attribution of the name Cristiano Ronaldo to the infrastructure is a form of “acknowledging” the footballer, who was born on the island, and of whom the regional administration says it is “massively proud”.
Público reports both the Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister António Costa have been invited to the official inauguration ceremony.
De Sousa has reportedly confirmed his presence, while Costa is not yet certain of his availability.
The airport’s name-change was originally planned for the end of December, when Ronaldo was on holiday in Madeira. It was delayed due to the player’s schedule, and rescheduled to the end of this month, when the national squad will be in Funchal.
Ronaldo has already received several tributes in Madeira; in addition to a museum, the Real Madrid footballer has a statue in the city and, in July, the first CR7 hotel, in partnership with the Madeiran Pestana group, was inaugurated.