FIFA’s decision, yesterday, to hand England star, Lauren James, a two-match ban has come under attack by Nigerians, who claim the world governing body is partial in dispensing punishments for infringements.

James’ two-match ban means the Chelsea star would be eligible to play in the final game if England makes it. But Nigerians are arguing that her offence, deliberately stamping on Michelle Alozie, who was already floored by her, is a more serious infringement than Deborah Abiodun’s rough tackle on a Canadian player during Super Falcons’ opening game at the ongoing FIFA Women World Cup.

Abiodun got a three-match ban for rough play during Nigeria’s opening game against Canada at the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia/New Zealand.

England had feared the maximum punishment would be dished out to the 21-year-old after she was shown a straight red card for standing on the back of Alozie as she moved away from a tangle of bodies.

The sending off was for violent conduct, which could have carried a three-match suspension, but the England Football Association defended the Chelsea star in her disciplinary hearing. The offence was subsequently deemed to be at the lower end of the spectrum and James will only be suspended for two games.

That would mean she could play again at this World Cup as long as England reach the semifinals. Although James will miss any last-four encounter, she will be eligible to return for either the final in the event they win or the third and fourth match play-off should they lose.

England take on a Colombia side in the quarterfinal in Sydney tomorrow.

That decision has raised some eyebrows because other players have been given three-match bans for violent offences at this tournament.

Reacting to the decision, sports lawyer, Sabinus Ikewuaku, described it as FIFA at its worse, saying James’ offence is more serious and deliberate than what fetched Abiodun a three-match ban.

“Abiodun’s case was purely accidental because it was a misplaced tackle, but James knew what she was doing. She deliberately climbed on Alozie’s back to hurt her. What if that action had affected Alozie’s spinal cord?

“FIFA has, once again, shown that there are different standards for different countries; everything depends on where you come from.

“They said England appealed on James’ behalf; does it mean that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) didn’t appeal for Abiodun?” he asked.

Ace broadcaster, Deji Omotoyinbo, described the decision as “FIFA’s double standards,” querying: “So FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee says Lauren James’ offence is ‘Serious foul play’ and not ‘violent conduct,’ so, she gets a two-game ban. It means they deemed Deborah Abiodun’s red card against Canada as ‘violent conduct,’ as she got a three-game ban. I totally disagree.

“James’ offence was deliberate and violent. Abiodun’s was misplaced tackle and serious foul play.

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