Lawson: A moment of absolute idiocy from Lauren James (1:20)

Sophie Lawson reacts to Lauren James’ red card for a stamp on Michelle Alozie. (1:20)

Tom Hamilton, Senior WriterAug 8, 2023, 07:00 AM ET


• Joined ESPN in 2011
• Covered two Olympics, a pair of Rugby World Cups and two British & Irish Lions tours
• Previously rugby editor, and became senior writer in 2018

SYDNEY – Lauren James has apologised for her actions leading to the red card against Nigeria in England’s round of 16 Women’s World Cup clash and has received the support of the FA as they wait for FIFA’s decision on her suspension.

James was shown a red card in the 87th minute of England’s round of 16 match against Nigeria after she was seen stamping on Michelle Alozie’s back. England eventually got through the tricky tie 4-2 on penalties but had to manage extra time with 10 players.

James is suspended for England’s quarterfinal against Colombia on Saturday, and FIFA may yet extend that ban by a maximum of two further games depending on how the disciplinary committee judges the severity of the offence.

The 21-year-old has since issued a public apology, posting to her Instagram account: “All my love and respect to [Michelle Alozie]. I am sorry for what happened.

“Also, for our England fans and my team-mates, playing with and for you is my greatest honour and I promise to learn from my experience.”

The FA later issued a statement on Tuesday, saying: “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.

“We will be supporting Lauren throughout and will be putting forward representation on her behalf. We fully respect FIFA’s disciplinary process and will not be making any further comment until after any decision has been made.”

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FIFA’s decision may come after England’s quarterfinal clash with Colombia.

James’ apology comes 24 hours after England’s nervy win over Nigeria. James, 21, was the star of their wins over Denmark and China in the pool stages, but the red card will see her suspended for at least the quarterfinal.

Speaking after the match, England captain Millie Bright - who is James’ teammate both with the Lionesses and Chelsea - said the squad will come together around James.

“It’s football. Listen, I have had red cards. Everyone goes through it as a player, everyone goes through it on the world stage,” Bright said. “But for me, it’s not a situation that needs too much light shining on it.

“It’s happened. It’s in the past. We are through. All that matters is we come together as a group, we have each others’ backs, and it is just another challenge in football that the player has to face. But we have got her back completely and we will get ready for the next game.”

Bright added: “I think it is really important that we look after each other. I have been through that. I know exactly how that feels. I think it is important that she has her space and lets her emotions settle. But it’s done now, we move on. We are through.”

Lucy Bronze has taken James under her wing since she became part of the Lionesses’ setup and the Barcelona star went to visit James immediately after the penalties had finished to check how she was.

“She’s a massively talented player; we all know that and obviously we’re very disappointed to lose a player of her calibre going into the next game,” Bronze said. “No one’s going to be more disappointed than LJ. It’s important to support her.

“Although LJ is the youngest in the team, she’s had to mature from a young age because she’s been thrown into the spotlight, whether that’s to do with her brother [Chelsea and England player Reece James] and her family or that she’s a fantastic player on her own.

“In the last game, everyone put the spotlight on her; she deals with it very, very well. She likes hanging around with the older players, myself, Jordan [Nobbs], Alex Greenwood, we are the three she comes to asking for advice.

“Obviously she’s going to be disappointed in herself. I went straight off the pitch after the game to make sure she was OK. Obviously she was a little bit upset and rightfully so and more than anything she just feels bad for the team. I said to her: we’ve made it through, it’s a team, it’s not just one player.”