Ildephonse Lima did not play for Andorra in 2020 because of a dispute with his country’s football federation.
Playing international football for Andorra is a constant struggle, but Ildephonse Lima has always accepted it.
During his 23-year international career, the longest in men’s football, he has met some of the world’s greatest stars and achieved legendary status in a country with only 77,000 inhabitants.
There were also heavy defeats against much stronger opponents, but Lima, who turns 41 next month, could never escape the challenge. In many ways he embodied his country’s struggle for respect and recognition on the world stage.
Today, his record career is in jeopardy due to a dispute with the Andorran Football Association (FAF) over the lack of coronavirus testing for players.
In the summer, when the Andorran side resumed training after the blockade, Lima showed concern.
We practiced for 10 or 15 days without testing, so I said something. I said that the protocol for the start of the football courses was not enough for us and the Andorran Football Association [AFA, of which he is chairman].
I didn’t say anything to the football association or anyone else.
In September, when the national team had games, they didn’t call me to tell me that if I wanted to go with the national team, I would have to leave the players’ union and apologize for what I said.
The controversial decision to exclude Lima, who play for Inter Club d’Escaldes in the Andorran first division and are captain of their country, was taken against the wishes of the national director Caldo Alvarez.
I talked to my coach because we were teammates and he was my coach for 10 years, Lima said. He told the press that he wanted me to end my career in the field.
I’m not angry because the coach of the National Team didn’t call me. I’m angry because nobody can tell the coach: This player cannot play for the national team because he thought otherwise.
I didn’t say anything bad, about anyone. I just thought differently. It’s just an opinion. That’s why a lot of people are on my side.
Captain Andorra and his collection of 600 T-shirts…
Lima has received a lot of support from the football world. FIFPro, the federation of professional players from all over the world, and AFE, the Spanish Football Federation, have asked Fifa to intervene. The #justiceforilde campaign has also become popular in social networks.
We’re a small team and we should all be together, he says. Meanwhile, there is no unity, because many people talk about the situation in the newspapers and on the internet. It’s bad publicity for our country and our sport.
In September, the Andorran Football Federation issued a statement: The Executive Board maintains its decision to suspend you from the national team because of your duties as chairman of the AFA, which have been the subject of much unfounded and unfounded criticism from the FAF.
When the FAF contacted the sports association in November, it rejected all further comments.
Lima is confused about the decision of FAF Chairman Felix Alvarez, supported by other board members, and is fighting for its annulment.
Three or four people can’t do it. They have to leave soccer because they are against the soul of soccer. The spirit of sport. They can’t do that to a person.
FIFA has recommended this because it cannot happen at the moment. No one in Europe can tolerate such discrimination this year. Clearly, they’re not doing the right thing.
In a friendly game in the Estádio da Luz, in which Andorra’s national team lost 7-0 to Portugal, the most experienced player trained with his club on Wednesday. Under normal circumstances he could have fought Cristiano Ronaldo as before.
On Wednesday, Cristiano Ronaldo was one of the scorers in the seven goal flight from Portugal from Andorra.
Lima knows that there are no more possibilities and the defender doesn’t withdraw.
He made his international debut in 1997, won 128 international games and scored 11 goals – two records for Andorra. He hoped to match the outstanding performance of Jari Litmanen, who has played international football for four decades.
I’m so sad. I’ve been playing for 23 years and I’ve worked my whole life to play for the national team, Lima said.
I represented Andorra with everything I had and was proud of it. I want to say goodbye on the field, to my teammates.
Sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you want, but I’ll fight to make it happen.
coronavirus,coronavirus symptoms,coronavirus prevention,coronavirus news