One of England’s key players will miss the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup – and the semifinals if they advance – a tough blow as the Lionesses hope to make a run for the trophy.
FIFA on Thursday banned Lauren James for two international games after she was sent off for stepping on the back of Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie during the Round of 16 at Brisbane Stadium on Monday.
It means James can’t be selected for Saturday’s quarterfinal against Colombia in Sydney and will also be out of commission if the Lionesses advance to the semis.
A day after being shown the red card, James apologized to both Alozie and England fans, tweeting, “I am sorry for what happened.”
“Also, for our England fans and my team-mates, playing with and for you is my greatest honor and I promise to learn from my experience,” she said.
The team also issued a statement, calling the incident “out of character” for James, who has been a forceful presence for the English women throughout the tournament.
“Lauren is really sorry for her actions which led to the red card and is full of remorse. It is wholly out of character for her,” the Lionesses tweeted.
James initially received a yellow card for what appeared to be a petulant and deliberate decision to step on Alozie. After a review from the video assistant referee (VAR), the punishment was upgraded to a red card, leaving England to finish the match down a player.
In a news conference after the match, England coach Sarina Wiegman said James is “an inexperienced player on this stage and has done really well, and I think in a split second she just lost her emotions.”
“And of course she doesn’t want to hurt anyone,” Wiegman said. “She’s the sweetest person I know, and things happen like that and you can’t change it anymore, so it’s a huge lesson for her to learn, but of course it’s not something that she really did on purpose.”
Many have compared the situation to the 1998 Men’s World Cup, when David Beckham was sent off for kicking out at Argentina’s Diego Simeone.