The PSG coach regrets his comments on his team’s “sand yacht” trips

The PSG coach regrets his comments on his team's "sand yacht" trips
Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier at the Parc des Princes in Paris on September 6, 2022.

Faced with a certain media urgency, the coach of Paris-Saint-Germain, Christophe Galtier, tried, on Tuesday, September 6, to extinguish the controversy aroused the day before by his remarks on the theme of the climate. After the Champions League match won against Juventusthe Parisian coach made, at the microphone of Canal +, his mea culpa:

“Believe me, I am concerned about climate problems, of our planet, I know the responsibility we have. (…) We are not above ground, we are very lucid, it’s just a joke that comes at the wrong time, which is in bad taste, and I regret it. »

Monday, Christophe Galtier and Parisian striker Kylian Mbappé were questioned at a press conferenceon the possibility of using the train, more ecological than the private plane, after a trip by the team to Nantes. “This morning, we discussed with the company with which we travel to find out if we could not travel by sand yacht”replied, ironically, Christophe Galtier, just after a giggle from Kylian Mbappé.

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Greenpeace’s “climate red card”

The footage immediately went viral, sparking a media and political tornado after a summer marked by three heat waves and repeated fires.

“I think it’s important that they [les footballeurs] realize what world we are in, that they realize that there is a climate crisis which is no longer a hypothesis for tomorrow but which is a reality now”declared in particular the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne.

“I really invite PSG to take this subject very seriously, because the French would not understand that some consider themselves above global warming”slammed the Minister of Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher.

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In the evening, just before the Champions League match, Greenpeace deployed a sand yacht and banners very close to the Parc des Princes to award a “climate red card” at the club. The boss of the ecological NGO called on Mbappé to put his “aura around the world” at the service of “fight” against the climate crisis.

Greenpeace activists with a sand yacht and banners around the Parc des Princes to raise awareness of the climate issue, before the Champions League match between PSG and Juventus, in Paris, September 6, 2022.

Discussions between PSG and SNCF

Before the mea culpa of his coach, PSG had taken the trouble to indicate that he was studying “all the possibilities of travel to the club’s away matches, around twenty-five per season”. Discussions are also taking place with the SNCF.

According to PSG, the priority remains “security, respect for public order, logistical issues and the environment”but the club said it had traveled to Lille by coach and planned to do so again “when possible”for Troyes, Reims, Auxerre and Lens.

For its trip to Nantes on Friday, the club highlighted the late hour and the impossibility of ensuring the return by train to justify its choice of the plane.

“We do tailor-made”replied a spokesman for TGV-Intercités, whose general manager, Alain Krakovitch, had launched the controversy on Sunday, by offering his services to PSG in a message on Twitter. With limits: the SNCF recognizes that late returns can be a problem, lines are often closed at night for work.

The SNCF offers the privatization of entire trains – which can do a lot for a single team (500 seats in a TGV) – or of one or two 1st class cars. A major challenge concerns security: how to manage probable crowds of fans waiting for PSG stars in a Parisian station? The railway company replies that it can ensure security thanks to the Suge (SNCF security), possibly helped by the club’s security service.

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“If it’s better for the planet, we’ll do it”

“The club is discussing, let those who take care of it do itsaid Brazilian defender PSG Marquinhos on Tuesday evening. We don’t have to worry, if it’s for the good of ecology, we’ve already taken the train, in Japan, in selection too. If it’s better for the planet, we’ll do it. »

The SNCF already claims to transport several rugby teams – and will be responsible for transporting most of the selections competing during the 2023 World Cup – but their notoriety is not at the level of that of PSG. Women’s and men’s L1 football teams also use its services, she says, without specifying which ones.

Read also: The most frequent private jet journeys in France and the (much less polluting) alternatives by train or car

According to a study by the Professional Football League (LFP), of all Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 matches in the 2019-2020 season, 65% of team journeys were made by plane, 31% by bus and 4 % by train.

In the main foreign championships, in Italy, Spain and Germany, the use of the train is not uncommon. In England, with seven clubs in London – more than a third of the championship – trips are shorter, and even the clubs of Manchester or Liverpool do not hesitate to charter trains to go to the capital. In October 2021, Manchester United had however been pinned for having taken the plane to Leicester, 160 km by road, a flight of… ten minutes.

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The World with AFP

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