Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe scored two goals in his team’s opening match of the 2022-23 UEFA Champions League season. The 2-1 victory over Italy’s Juventus still couldn’t get Mbappe off the hook for his actions at the pregame press conference, though.
Ahead of the biggest matchup of UCL Matchday 1, Mbappe was sitting and answering questions from reporters beside his manager Christophe Galtier when a reporter asked a question about the French soccer team’s irresponsible use of private jets.
The question drew a hearty laugh from Mbappe and a joke response from his coach. Now both are under fire from environmentalists, politicians, and ordinary fans for not taking a legitimate query about climate change seriously.
Kylian Mbappe laughed off a legitimate question about private jets and climate change
On Saturday, September 3, Kylian Mbappe and his PSG teammates, like Lionel Messi and Neymar, traveled to play Nantes. The 23-year-old Frenchman scored two goals in a 3-0 PSG win.
After the win, Alain Krakovitch, Managing Director of the French train company SNCF, retweeted a video of PSG traveling to Nantes — a city 239 miles away from Paris — in a private jet. He questioned why a team would fly in an environmentally unfriendly private jet to a place that is only two hours or so by train and wrote, “I re-re-renew our offer” to create a luxury train to take PSG to its nearby matches.
The tweet may have gone unnoticed by most, but a reporter did bring it up at the Champions League press conference attended by Mbappe and Christophe Galtier.
That’s when things got ugly.
A reporter asked (in French) about Krakovitch’s tweet and the issues surrounding flying private and the environment. Mbappe loudly burst out laughing at the question. And as bad as that reaction looked, Galtier’s response was possibly worse.
“To be honest, this morning we have spoken with the company that organizes our trips to look into whether we can go by sand-yacht,” Galtier said, per Bloomberg.
As you can imagine, this didn’t go over well with a large number of people.
Criticism of the PSG pair
According to the Washington Post, “the average person in the E.U. produces about 8.2 tons of emissions over the course of an entire year,” per a 2021 report. “A single private jet can emit 2 metric tons of CO2 in just an hour.”
This means that PSG’s flight to and from Nantes produced about half the CO2 emissions that the average European does in a year.
Stats like this, combined with the flooding, drought, heat waves, and more around the world caused by climate change, made many respond negatively to Kylian Mbappe and Christophe Galtier’s glib reaction to the private jet question.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo retweeted a video of the response. She wrote (translation via Twitter), “No, but it’s not okay to answer stuff like that???? Wake up guys??? This is Paris.”
Elsewhere on social media, people of all stripes turned out to blast the player and his coach. Many pointed out what a bad look the laughter was for Mbappe, who makes €1 million per week on his current contract.
Neither Paris Saint-Germain nor Mbappe or Galtier’s camps have responded to the backlash yet.