Nigeria forward Michelle Alozie has sent a message of support to Lauren James despite being stamped on by the England ace at the Women’s World Cup on Monday. James had been one of the Lionesses’ best performers at the tournament before letting herself down by stamping on Alozie, which resulted in a straight red card.
James was initially shown a yellow card by the referee before a VAR intervention saw her punishment upgraded to a red, leaving her England team-mates a player down for the rest of the match. They went on to scrape through the tie on penalties after 120 minutes of football ended goalless, with Chloe Kelly scoring the decisive spot-kick to set up a quarter-final meeting with either Colombia or Jamaica.
Alozie has since issued a classy response to the incident by calling for an end to the backlash against James, who she believes was simply caught up in the heat of the moment. The Nigeria star tweeted: “Abeg, rest. We are playing on the world’s stage. This game is one of passion, insurmountable emotions, and moments. All respect for Lauren James.”
Another message soon followed as Alozie quote-tweeted her own post to add: “Still a red though.” She later uploaded a picture of James stamping on her while she was laying on the ground with a wry smile on her face alongside the caption: “Life.”
James will be forced to miss England’s next match as a result of her stamp on Alozie, although FIFA’s disciplinary committee may decide to hand down a harsher punishment upon reviewing what happened. A three-match ban could be imposed if the incident is deemed as violent conduct, which would rule James out of action for the remainder of the tournament.
England boss Sarina Wiegman was quick to defend James after the final whistle against Nigeria by insisting that her judgment was clouded by the occasion, while she also expressed confidence that the forward will learn from the incident and steer clear of making the same mistake again in future.
“She’s young,” said Wiegman. “This is just a split second and she doesn’t want to harm anyone. It’s later on in the game, so you get a little bit tired too.
“It’s such an intense and emotional game that in a split second where you just don’t control your emotions, then things happen. Of course, she didn’t want to do that, but before she’d even realised it had happened. Very unfortunate. She will absolutely learn from it.”
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