Lauren James stamps on Michelle Alozie during England vs Nigeria WC R16 match, Monday, August 6, 2023 |

England forward Lauren James saw red in Monday afternoon’s round of 16 Women’s World Cup match against Nigeria. The Lionesses’ no. 7 was sent off for stepping on Michelle Alozie’s back with the game still goalless in the 87th minute. Another England No. 7, David Beckham, saw red at the same level in the 1998 men’s World Cup for kicking out at Argentina’s Diego Simeone. Unlike Beckham’s side, however, Lauren’s Lionesses proceed to the quarters after a 4-2 shootout win.

I got a text from a friend, What has your girlfriend Laura James done? They tease me so because, alongside Vivianne Miedema and Esse Akida, Lauren is one of the few female footballers I follow closely. She has never crossed me as a nasty player. Thus it has been bothering me all afternoon and until now. What was Lauren Elizabeth James thinking?

I can’t seem to find the whole game yet, so I am just here with my biased thoughts about the incident. First up, the sending-off was the correct football decision. She was dismissed for violent conduct. By the letter of the laws of the game.

But Lauren is not nasty. She broke the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the game. It wasn’t even a real stamp. Neither was it a moment of madness. It was a silly, very silly mistake. A mistake that blots her professionalism. Maybe Alozie was winding her up the whole game and Liz forgot they were in a World Cup knockout game. She fell for it like Arsenal defenders falling for Chelsea’s Diego Costa’s antics. 

I’d dare say that Alozie was smiling after the ‘stamp.’ However, the Yale Molecular Biology degree holder and cancer research technician is smiling in all the photos that my searches have returned. Therefore, I’ll conclude she is just like that. You know, like N’Golo Kante.

Michelle Alozie has forgiven Lauren James
The happy one: The ever-smiling Michelle Alozie has no hard feelings for Lauren James

What next for Lauren James?

To say we are gutted as a family is an understatement. We will stand by Lauren. Hopefully, the young lioness won’t suffer any further disciplinary action. An apology should suffice, as would a good word by Alozie. The Nigerian, by the way, says her butt is fine. She has no hard feelings and respects Lauren’s talent. Surely, even FIFA will understand, no?

Missing the quarter-final is enough punishment. Please?

Also, I think it will be really awkward to cover your family as a journalist. In sports and everywhere. 

PS: I’ll enter this as my first post covering women’s football. To many more!

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