Ex-England international Eniola Aluko has apologised after posting a series of tweets appearing to criticise people placed on the government’s furlough scheme amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Aston Villa Women’s sporting director said it created a “do-nothing” mentality and “culture of entitlement”.
The scheme, now extended until October, sees employees receive 80% of their monthly wages up to £2,500.
She has since deleted several posts and apologised for “any offence caused”.
Aluko, who won 102 caps for her country and also played for Chelsea, Birmingham City and Juventus, said to one responder: “When people were dying in other parts of the world before this crisis, did you stop working? Probably not.”
In a statement on Wednesday, the 33-year-old said: “Opening up my tweets this morning to say sorry for any offence caused by any of my tweets on furlough last night.
“The tweets that seem to have upset people the most have been deleted. I have no interest in being a source of further public upset.”
She added: “No generalisations or widespread offence was intended. Just a personal opinion on the future economy in this crisis. This account will now be private and views, as always, remain my own.”
Aluko helped the Lionesses to third place at the 2015 Women’s World Cup, as well as playing five times for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics.
She is England’s joint-10th most capped international, scoring 33 goals in her 102 senior appearances.
BBC Sport understands players and staff at several clubs in the Women’s Championship, which Aluko’s Villa are leading, have been furloughed during the coronavirus outbreak.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday the UK scheme to pay wages of workers on leave because of coronavirus would continue but that the government would ask companies to “start sharing” the cost from August.
A quarter of the workforce, some 7.5 million people, are now covered by the scheme, which has cost £14bn a month.