Top French football club Paris St-Germain has been criticised following a joke about the team using a private plane for a short journey.
Head coach Christophe Galtier and star player Kylian Mbappé were asked about the French champions’ recent jet trip to the western city of Nantes.
Mbappe laughed and Galtier said the club was looking into the possibility of travelling by sand yacht, instead.
French politicians urged the club to be more responsible over the environment.
PSG won 3-0 at Nantes on Saturday, but the controversy started on Sunday when a senior official from French train operator SNCF tweeted: “Paris-Nantes is less than two hours by TGV (high speed train).
“I renew my proposal of a TGV offer adapted to your specifications, for our common interest: security, speed, services and eco-mobility.”
When asked at a news conference on Monday, Galtier and Mbappé looked at each other and the striker burst out laughing.
Galtier then responded: “I knew this question was coming. “To be perfectly honest with you, this morning we talked about it with the company who organises our trips and we’re looking into travelling on sand yachts.”
Mbappé was also asked for his views, but said he did not have any.
A video of their comments immediately went viral, triggering angry responses from social media users, environmentalists and ministers.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted: “Are you serious, responding like this? Wake up guys???”
France’s Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra added: “We’ve become used to more relevant and responsible reactions than this – should we discuss?”
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told BFM TV on Tuesday: “I love Mbappé, we can all have the giggles at the least opportune moment and it really was the least opportune moment. “But we all have to take climate change seriously.”
He added Galtier’s irony had been “out of place”. There is no comment from PSG so far.
Using private jets has become a big topic both in France and around the world this summer, with social media users often criticising their use amid a series of heatwaves, droughts and floods.
English Premier League clubs regularly fly for domestic matches due to convenience. For example, Manchester United had to defend their decision to fly to Leicester back in October 2021.
The club said they would not normally fly to the match – but their plans changed as there were reports of congestion on the M6.
Arsenal were also criticised for previously flying 14 minutes to Norwich in 2015, while Tottenham took a 20-minute flight to Bournemouth in the same year.