WSL

More must be done to combat 'disgusting' James abuse, says Brown-Finnis

By Sports Desk December 17, 2023 199

Former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis has described online racist abuse aimed at Chelsea's Lauren James as "disgusting", calling for action to be taken against the perpetrators.

Speaking at the launch of the first ever Panini Barclays Women's Super League sticker collection at the National Football Museum, Brown-Finnis was joined by current Lionesses forward Chloe Kelly, who pledged to support her international team-mate after she was abused on social media.

James was subjected to racist comments online after appearing to stamp on Lia Walti's foot during Chelsea's 4-1 Women's Super League defeat against Arsenal last week.

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes subsequently said James was "not in a good place" and claimed "racial profiling" by people working in football was partly to blame for the abuse.  

Brown-Finnis, who won 82 caps for England between 1997 and 2013 before moving into punditry, believes more must be done to hold those who post online abuse to account.

"Of course, it's not coming from within. People can say what they want on social media and there seems to be little ownership of comments, there seems to be no action taken against people who put what they want on social media," she said.

"It's awful, it's hurtful, it's not representative of what the majority of people think of women, of athletes, of people of colour, of any sort of minority group, and it's disgusting. 

"It's something that I would not want my children to see, would want to relate to, would want any part of, so with the fact that it's highlighted, hopefully something can be done about it."

James was also racially abused online while playing for Manchester United in 2021, while a recent FIFA study revealed one in five players at this year's Women's World Cup were subjected to "discriminatory, abusive or threatening messaging" during the tournament.

Kelly – who played alongside James in Australia and New Zealand as Sarina Wiegman's team finished as runners-up to Spain – said the forward's team-mates would now rally around her.

"I haven't seen anything about it, but it's really disappointing to hear," Kelly said of the abuse James has received.

"She's a great young talent, a great young English talent who is doing so well at the minute, but of course, there's so much negativity. I think it's always disappointing with such a talent like LJ. 

"Hopefully she's able to block that out and move forward. Everyone around her will definitely support her in this time because she's an unbelievable player and deserves a lot of support."

James was on target as Chelsea returned to winning ways in the Women's Super League on Sunday, netting the opener in a 3-0 victory over Bristol City.

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Last modified on Sunday, 17 December 2023 17:15
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