Lauren James, a top player for England in the Women’s World Cup, was given a two-game suspension by FIFA, soccer’s governing body, for stepping on the back of an opposing player in her team’s round-of-16 win against Nigeria on Monday in Brisbane, Australia. If she does return in this tournament, it will be in the final.
James received a red card near the end of regulation time because she stamped on the back of Michelle Alozie as Alozie was getting up from a foul. England went on to win on penalties after 120 minutes with no goals.
The red card meant that James was automatically suspended for England’s quarterfinal game on Saturday against Colombia. But FIFA’s disciplinary committee added an additional game because her violation was for violent conduct.
“The suspension will be served for the FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinal and the next international fixture following that,” FIFA said in a statement.
Why It Matters: James has been one of England’s top players.
James, with three goals in this tournament, had been England’s most exciting player. She had accounted for five goals in a win over China in the group stage, with three assists, two goals and a potential third called back because one of her teammates was offside.
England is one of the top teams remaining, especially after the eliminations of the United States and Germany, and James’s presence helped the Lionesses overcome injuries to other key players.
Background: The violation came near the end of a physical game.
England’s game against Nigeria was a tough, back-and-forth contest in which Nigeria was playing aggressively and England seemed to be holding on. Nigeria, having seen James’s success in the tournament, kept a defender on her as much as possible. As a result, James touched the ball less often than she wanted to.
Alozie acknowledged the game’s intensity in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “This game is one of passion, insurmountable emotions, and moments,” she wrote. “All respect for Lauren James.”
James responded with an apology: “I am sorry for what happened.”
What’s Next: England faces Colombia in a quarterfinal on Saturday.
James can return for the World Cup final if England can win two games without her. Its next game is a quarterfinal against Colombia, which has another big star in 18-year-old Linda Caicedo. The winner of that game is scheduled to play a semifinal on Wednesday against the winner of the quarterfinal between France and Australia.
The final of the tournament is Aug. 20.