The TGV high-speed train travels from Paris Montparnasse station to the western French city of Nantes in exactly two hours and two minutes. Nevertheless, the footballers of the millionaire club PSG flew to Saturday’s league match against FC Nantes on a private jet. Brazilian defender Marquinhos had his picture taken on board and shared the picture on social networks. And all this at a time when French regions are dealing with long-term drought or, on the contrary, floods as a result of climate change.
At Monday’s press conference, one of the journalists asked coach Christoph Galtier about the chosen method of transport to Nantes. And Galtier, although he knew the question would fall, chose an ironic answer: “This morning we discussed with the company that transports us whether we could move on a sand yacht,” he declared.
Sitting next to him, soccer superstar Kylian Mbappé burst out laughing.
When asked what Mbappé himself thinks about private flights, the player replied that nothing.
They should realize what kind of world we live in
However, the provocative answer and reaction of the footballer in a country where climate change is taken seriously by politicians and their voters, caused sharp criticism.
In addition to environmental activists, several ministers rejected the coach’s statement, even Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on Tuesday: “I think it’s important for them to realize what kind of world we live in, to realize that there is a climate crisis that is no longer a hypothesis for tomorrow, but it is a reality now,” she said.
France Inter has calculated how much emissions differ when traveling from Paris to Nantes by train and plane. While 0.69 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions per passenger on a TGV high-speed train, it is roughly 50 kilograms per passenger on an airplane. If we also take into account other gases produced during the burning of kerosene and also burdening the climate, we get up to 92.2 kilograms per person.
Ranking of celebrities who destroy the climate the most
We wrote about the rich who do not hesitate to use private jets even for 15-minute flights here:
The above-mentioned data were calculated by the calculator of the state environmental office, and non-profit organizations report even higher numbers. Air France, on the other hand, calculates on a given route with 36 kilograms of CO2 per person, because they offer a tree-planting program as compensation.
But this only applies to scheduled flights, not to the private flight chosen by the management of the Paris club. According to Prosky’s calculator, emissions per person rise to 112 kilograms of carbon dioxide per person, and the non-profit organization Transport and the Environment states that private jet transport emits four to 14 times more emissions per person than airline transport and 50 times more than in in the case of a train (numbers have a range due to the fact that the capacity of a private plane also depends).
An inappropriate joke at a bad time
At Tuesday’s press conference after the win over Juventus Turin, the Parisian coach paradoxically had to repent and apologize. “Believe me, I am concerned about climate issues and I realize the responsibility we have… It was a joke that came at a bad time, it was inappropriate and I regret it,” Galtier said.
However, the coach defended his club in a different way, saying that the players pay a lot of attention to the climate problem, as does the management. Galtier argued the recent game in Lille in the north of the country, where the players of the star PSG traveled 2.5 hours by bus. The 56-year-old strategist admits he made his first communication mistake since his appointment and says he has learned from it: “I think you can’t joke in France anymore… although my joke was not the best, which I quickly realized on my return home,” he admitted.
Galtier’s words about players who pay a lot of attention to the climate break down the data about the Argentinian star of the team – Lionel Messi. According to the weekly Journal du Dimanche, he made 52 flights in a private jet in just three months. He alone is therefore responsible for emitting 1,502 tons of emissions, which would take the average Frenchman 150 years to produce.
For the sake of completeness, it should be added that the 268 flight hours of Messi’s plane, which are tracked by accounts mapping the movements of private jets, are not just for the player himself. Messi sometimes lends or rents his machine. For example, in February 2021, he rented a plane to the Argentine president for $160,000 for his official visit to Mexico, and in August Messi’s former teammate Luis Suárez borrowed it for a trip to Montevideo, Uruguay.
According to environmental activists, Messi has thus placed himself alongside other “ultra-rich who pollute our planet the most”.
Other similar sinners include singer Taylor Swift, boxer Floyd Mayweather, celebrity Kim Kardashian or even presenter Oprah Winfrey. But as it turns out, the public in France is much more sensitive to unnecessary emissions than in the US. And that’s even in the case when it comes to football stars praised by the nation.