Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has defended a £30,000 lottery grant awarded to Manchester United.
Man United is the second richest club in the world
Ms Jowell told the Commons the money was a challenge to employers to match lottery cash with their own funds to help their employees get fit.
The world's second richest football club had to match the grant to increase the health and fitness of its staff.
Ms Jowell said it was worth looking at the broader context before "leaping to judgement and cheap headlines".
Ms Jowell was responding to a parliamentary question from Labour MP Bill Olner (Nuneaton) who said it was "bizarre" that a rich club like Manchester United had access to lottery funds which could have been spent in deprived areas.
Forty-one companies and organisations have received lottery grants under the Sport England fitness drive.
She said many of these companies and organisations had employees from deprived areas.
Tory MP Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) tabled a Commons motion on Monday, highlighting widespread anger over the grant.
Speaking outside the Commons, he said: "We all know of causes that are desperate for lottery money and have been turned down, whilst the second richest football club in the world receives £30,000 to get their staff fit.
"This cannot be fair."
And he added: "The Secretary of State must look again at the rules which allow the lottery to give money out in this way. Diverting it from good causes and charities to Manchester United, Granada (Television) and Halliwell's (a leading law firm) to name just three is a scandal."
Manchester United's money will fund yoga lessons and lunchtime walking sessions for staff.