England’s star player Lauren James has apologized for stepping on an opponent during the team’s Round of 16 game against Nigeria, a move that earned her a red card and elimination from at least one World Cup match.
In what appeared to be a moment of madness, James stepped on the back of Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie and was sent off in the 87th minute of Monday’s match at Brisbane Stadium.
After the game, which culminated in Nigeria losing a penalty shootout, Alozie took to Twitter Tuesday to share her respect for James despite the incident.
“We are playing on the world’s stage. This game is one of passion, insurmountable emotions, and moments. All respect for Lauren James,” Alozie wrote.
In response, James apologized, tweeting: “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 honor and I promise to learn from my experience.”
The red card means James will miss England’s next game, Saturday’s quarterfinal against Colombia in Sydney, Australia.
She could also be out of commission for subsequent games, should England progress. Receiving a red card results in an automatic one match ban, but the FIFA disciplinary committee can increase that if it sees fit.
After James apologized personally, her team also issued a statement.
“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.
“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.”
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 and she was sent off, leaving England to finish the match down a player.
In a press 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. 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 received a red card and was sent off for kicking out at Argentina’s Diego Simeone.