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Lauren James ‘not in a good place’ following online abuse, according to Chelsea boss Emma Hayes

By George Ramsay, CNN

(CNN) — Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said that Blues forward Lauren James is “not in a good place” after receiving “disgusting” online abuse.

The abuse started after the 22-year-old James appeared to stamp on the foot of Arsenal player Lia Wälti during Sunday’s Women’s Super League game, which Chelsea lost 4-1.

James wasn’t sent off for the second-half incident and Chelsea later condemned the online abuse and discrimination directed at the England international, promising to “take action against any individual that we can identify.”

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Hayes said: “I think it’s disgusting the amount of abuse [James] has received from the public, from the media, from the press. We’re talking about a young player here that, no question, is always working to learn in the background on bits and bobs.

“But some of the language I’ve seen used to vilify her externally I think is unacceptable. I don’t see the same level of abuse attributed to other players in the league who might have had their own challenging moments.

“I think it’s fair to say that if I was in her position, I’d be thinking that there is racial profiling going on. I think it’s important for the country to recognize she is an important talent and is learning all the time.

“She makes mistakes, but I think some of the derogatory and very misleading conversations that are happening, during the commentary, during the games, and on social media is something that everybody should reflect upon.”

Hayes, who is set to take over as head coach of the US Women’s National Team next year after 11 seasons with Chelsea, added that James is “not in a great place” following the abuse.

She also alluded to the red card that James received at the Women’s World Cup earlier this year for stamping on the back of Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie.

“She is a young player, she made an error in the summer,” said Hayes. “Of coursel, she has to keep learning those things, but they aren’t done in single segments. It’s always ongoing work. Sometimes, some of that, you can have really good moments with it, and sometimes not.”

The 47-year-old added: “We have to realize for a young person, in a day and age where social media is unbelievably vitriolic, some of the nasty language and labeling and name-calling, I think it goes over the edge, to be honest with you.

“And then you add racism in that for her, you can understand why her mental health is not in the very best place this week.”

A report from global soccer governing body FIFA and players’ union FIFPRO identified nearly 1,000 abusive posts targeting players from England during the Women’s World Cup, the third-highest of any nation behind the US and Argentina.

The US team received more than twice the amount of abusive messages than any other nation at the tournament, according to the report, and the level of abuse peaked when the team was knocked out by Sweden in a penalty shootout.

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