Paris St-Germain has been chastised after a joke about the players utilising a private plane for a short trip.
The French champions’ recent journey to the western city of Nantes was discussed by head coach Christophe Galtier and star player Kylian Mbappé.
Mbappe chuckled, and Galtier said that the club was investigating the prospect of travelling by sand boat instead.
French legislators pushed the club to be more environmentally conscious.
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.
This summer, the use of private jets has been a hot topic in France and around the world, with social media users frequently criticising their use amid a series of heatwaves, droughts, and floods.
Because of the convenience, English Premier League clubs frequently fly for domestic matches. Manchester United, for example, had to defend their decision to fly to Leicester in October 2021.
The club stated that they would not ordinarily fly to the game, but their plans changed due to reports of traffic congestion on the M6.
Arsenal was also chastised for flying 14 minutes to Norwich in 2015, while Tottenham flew 20 minutes to Bournemouth in the same year.