French sports minister not amused by PSG coach’s ironic quip

PARIS (AP): PSG coach Christophe Galtier’s ironic comments about the club’s use of planes instead of trains have drawn sharp criticism from France’s sports minister.

The French league champions have defended their use of chartered flights rather than more ecological trains after an executive for France’s high-speed rail network called out the club for flying its players on a short-haul to Nantes last weekend.

In his news conference ahead of Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League opener against Juventus on Tuesday, newly-appointed Galtier was asked whether he spoke with his players about the transport options.

“I thought I would get that question. To be very honest with you, this morning we spoke with the company that organizes our trips, and we’re trying to see if we can travel by sand yacht,” Galtier replied, sarcastically.

Sitting next to Galtier, PSG striker Kylian Mbappé burst into laughter when he heard the question from the reporter. Mbappé declined to comment when asked about the use of private jets.

French Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra fired back in a tweet: “Mr. Galtier, we’re used to more relevant and responsible answers from you – shall we talk about this?”

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo joined the criticism of Galtier, urging the soccer club’s officials to “wake up” while politicians from across the spectrum called for a more serious approach to the issue.

The debate started after Alain Krakovitch, the director of the French rail company’s TGV-Intercity service, noted on social media that the network’s high-speed trains can travel the roughly 380 kilometers (240 miles) from Paris to Nantes in just under two hours.

He retweeted video apparently posted by a PSG player of team members aboard a flight to the Ligue 1 match on Saturday night. Paris beat Nantes 3-0.

Addressing PSG, Krakovitch wrote: “I re-re-renew our proposition of a TGV offer adapted to your specific needs.”

In response to questions from The Associated Press, PSG said there weren’t any late-night TGV trains it could have taken back to Paris after the match, which would have forced the team to spend the night in Nantes.

The club said the team is making increasing use of buses for short trips.

Krakovitch’s tweet, which caught the attention of French media, came as the government is urging companies, households and other consumers to save energy amid a fear of shortages stemming from tensions with Russia over the war in Ukraine.