David Beckham's heartfelt message to Lionesses riles fans up over one word

David Beckham sent his well wishes to the Lionesses as they enter the semi-final of the Women’s World Cup against Australia – but not everyone was happy with his wording.

The 48-year-old may have hung up his football boots long ago, but he is still involved in the sport as president and co-owner of Inter Miami, as well as co-owner of Salford City.

Follow Metro.co.uk’s live blog for scores and latest updates on the Lionesses game today

The football competition on everyone’s lips right now is the Women’s World Cup, which the Euros-winning Lionesses are charging through full speed ahead.

But we don’t want to speak too soon, as they face Australia today for their chance in the final.

And so David waded in on the action last night, as he sent a video to the official England football Instagram account, which they posted for the world to see alongside the caption: ‘A very special message for our @lionesses ahead of their #FIFAWWC semi-final! ❤️ Thanks for your support, @davidbeckham (and Harper!) 👏.’

‘Hey girls,’ the ex-footballer began.

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‘I just wanted to say, wow. What a tournament it’s been so far. It’s been so much fun to watch and we’re all so proud as a nation of what you’ve achieved already.

‘Seeing you girls play as a team, it’s been really incredible. So continue to do so, good luck in this next game, and just know that our whole nation is behind you, as always. And good luck.’

Piping up from the other side of the room, 11-year-old Harper Beckham added a spirited, ‘Good luck Lionesses!’ with a wave.

But David’s message sparked controversy in the comments section of the video, as some struggled with his use of the word ‘girls’ to describe a squad of grown women, while others felt this was equivalent to calling a male team ‘boys’, as is often the case in football.

One said: ‘Not sure that the right way to start the video 💀’

Another wrote: ‘They’re women David. Women!’

But others pointed out that in football-speak, men in teams are never referred to as such, but always as ‘boys’ or ‘lads’ – and claimed this was equivalent to ‘girls’.

One fan responded with a lengthy message, which read: ‘When we refer to a team in men’s football or address the players, we also say “the boys did well” or “the lads got the job done”, etc.

‘Never have I ever heard anyone with any bit of footballing IQ or knowledge say “the men made us proud” or “the men played well” when talking about the players.

‘Referring to the English women players as girls is not short of indulging in English footballing culture and its linguistic influence. Please, leave football from the appropriation and view it from the historical and cultural lens it deserves to be observed from.’

Another wrote: ‘He referred to the female players as ‘girls’ in much the same way as he would say ‘lads’ in reference to the men’s team.’

Women’s football has rocketed into the public consciousness since the build up to – and as a result of – their epic win at last year’s Euros against Germany.

The Lionesses’ success sparked a huge surge in interest in women’s football (about time!) with record-breaking crowds, TV viewing figures and transfer prices.

David was actually himself the subject of the cultural gem that is Bend It Like Beckham, all about a woman who wants to play football in a sea of men, as far back as 2002.

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