England footballer Lauren James will miss the quarter-final and a potential semi-final of the Women’s World Cup after being banned for two matches by FIFA.
The ban comes after the England forward was sent off for standing on the back of her Nigerian opponent Michelle Alozie during a round-of-16 tie.
The 21-year-old, who had been one of the stand-out performers of the tournament, had her initial yellow card upgraded to a red after a review by the video assistant referee (VAR).
FIFA rules state that players are automatically banned for one game if they receive a red – meaning James misses England’s quarter-final against Colombia on Saturday.
She will also now miss the semi-final, should England get there, after FIFA extended the suspension.
James, who had scored three goals and had three assists in the tournament, apologised after the foul.
It came after Alozie said it was a game of “insurmountable emotions” and she still had “all respect for Lauren James”.
Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, James wrote: “All my love and respect to you. 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.”
Her sending-off had echoes of David Beckham and Wayne Rooney’s red cards from the 1998 and 2006 World Cups respectively – England’s standout young star and player of the tournament so far stopped in their tracks by a moment of madness.
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The England striker says ‘anything could happen’ ahead of Colombia tie Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman said James “lost her emotions” but didn’t want to hurt anyone.
Wiegman said: “She is the sweetest person I know.
“Yet then things happen like that and you cannot change it any more. So it is a huge lesson for her to learn, but it is not something that she really did on purpose.
“It happens sometimes with human beings – that you are in such an intense game, such an emotional game and, in a split-second, she lost her emotions.
“She apologised and she felt really, really bad and absolutely she does not want to hurt anyone.”