French lawmakers and government ministers on Tuesday criticized the Paris Saint-Germain coach after he dismissed concerns about the team’s use of charter flights during a national energy-saving drive.
Asked at a press conference whether PSG were considering using greener trains instead of flying to games, coach Christophe Galtier sarcastically quipped that they could switch to using sail power to transport their millionaire players instead.
Galtier initially smiled at the question, shaking his head and pinching his nose, and star striker Kylian Mbappe burst out laughing. After composing himself, Galtier said, “I thought I was going to get that question. To be completely honest we spoke to the company that organizes our trips this morning and we are trying to see if we can travel on a sand yacht. “
Her giggling response caused a media storm in France.
A number of politicians reacted angrily, with French Sport Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera fired back in a tweet: “Mr Galtier, we’re used to more relevant and responsible responses from you – shall we talk about it?”
As the government urges consumers to reduce fossil fuel use both to combat climate change and to stave off feared shortages amid tensions with supplier Russia over the war in Ukraine, Galtier and Mbappe’s apparent lack of concern has drawn criticism that they lost contact.
“No, is that how you answer???? Guys, will you wake up???” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted.
Ecologist Francesca Pasquini invited Mbappe to the National Assembly to “teach you on climate issues accompanied by your team”.
“Your coach’s ‘joke’ doesn’t get many laughs!” she tweeted.
Even the French Prime Minister got involved. “It is important that they recognize the world we live in, that there is a climate crisis,” said Elisabeth Borne.
The debate over PSG’s use of short-haul flights began when an executive on France’s high-speed rail network called the club to fly its players on a short hop from Paris to Nantes last weekend.
Alain Krakovitch, director of the French rail company’s TGV intercity service, noted that the network’s high-speed trains can cover the roughly 380 kilometers (240 miles) to the western city in just under two hours. He retweeted a video apparently posted by a PSG player from team members on board their flight to Saturday night’s Ligue 1 game. Paris beat Nantes 3-0.
Addressing PSG, Krakovitch wrote: “I am renewing our offer of a TGV offer adapted to your specific needs.”
In response to questions from The Associated Press, PSG said there were no nighttime TGV trains to take them back to Paris after the game, forcing the team to spend the night in Nantes.
The club said the team is increasingly using buses for short journeys.
AP journalist Samuel Petrequin contributed from Brussels.