A joke that landed badly

The energy crisis is serious.

The Labor Day heat wave brought all-time highs to the Bay Area on Monday with 116 degrees recorded in the city of Fairfield, located about midway between San Francisco and Sacramento, and emergency warnings of rolling blackouts across the region.

With heat waves and drought across Europe, there is heightened attention to issues of climate change. Throw in Russia's closure of one of its main gas supply routes to Europe, causing concerns of severe winter fuel shortages and economic disruptions, and energy is a huge issue.

In France, there is a term for its national energy policy: sobriété énergétique ("energy sobriety"), and it was the focus of Emmanuel Macron's press conference on Monday. The French president called for a reduction of energy usage by 10 percent.

Sobriété énergétique is a hot topic in French soccer. Among the measures discussed last week at a meeting of French clubs and government officials:

• Lowering the maximum temperature in winter (heating) and increasing the minimum temperature in the summer (air conditioning) at buildings controlled by French clubs (offices, locker rooms, indoor facilities, resident dorms);
• Paying for free public transportation to stadiums on game-days and installing bike racks around them.
• Reducing the stadium lighting TV partners need to broadcast matches.

All that makes Qatari-owned Paris St. Germain's decision to fly by jet to Nantes -- a distance of only 240 miles -- for its Ligue 1 match on Saturday surprising.

The firestorm started when Paris St. Germain (whose sponsor is Qatar Airways) tweeted on its Spanish-language account a travel video of its stars on the flight -- Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar among them: "From Paris to Nantes with @qatarairways!"

PSG often travels by bus to away matches in cities like Lille and Reims, so the decision to make such a short trip by jet, given the scrutiny given to sports teams and stars, raised lot of eyebrows. (Messi was just called out last week for his use of private jet -- 52 flights from June to August amounting to as much CO2 emission as the average French person would be responsible for in 150 years, according to a watchdog group.)

Alain Krakovitch, the head of French railway SNCF's high-speed passenger trains, offered an alternative:  "Paris-Nantes is in less than two hours by TGV," he tweeted. "I renew our proposal for a TGV offer adapted to your specific needs in line with our common interests -- safety, speed, services and eco-mobility."

Another press conference took place on Monday: PSG's media gathering ahead of Tuesday's Champions League opener against Juventus at the Parc des Princes. At the podium were PSG coach Christophe Galtier and Mbappe.

Galtier was clearly unhappy -- and surprised -- when he was asked about Krakovitch's tweet and PSG's carbon footprint. He took a moment to think about his response.

"To be honest," he joked, "we had a chat with our travel organizers earlier to see if we can travel by sand-yacht," referring to land-sailing, a popular activity on certain French beaches.

The joke landed with a thud, made worse by Mbappe, who broke out in laughter in response to the question and Galtier's response.

Galtier was immediately called out by Amelie Oudea-Castera, the French minister for sport and the Olympic & Paralympic Games: "Monsieur Galtier, we are used to getting from you more pertinent and more responsible  responses, let's talk about it?"

Update: On Tuesday, following PSG's 2-1 win over Juventus, Galtier told Canal+: "Believe me when I say I am concerned about climate change and about our planet. I am aware of the responsibility we have. It was a badly timed joke in bad taste and I regret it."

6 comments about "A joke that landed badly".
  1. Bill Watts, September 6, 2022 at 9:12 a.m.

    Pompous idiots! Climate change holes!

  2. Santiago 1314 replied, September 6, 2022 at 11:43 a.m.

    Bill.??? ... The Woke Politicians or the Nincompoops making the Comments .???

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, September 6, 2022 at 10:36 p.m.

    Come on. Don't tell me you guys think global warming is a hoax? I suppose you didn't take high school Physics. The so-called "greenies" put out as much bad information as the "hoaxers". Like the stuff said about electric cars is purely bad information. Using a calculator and some simple high school physics it was easy to calculate that the production of e-car batteries in China creates a carbon footprint for one battery that is equivalent to driving a typical gas powered car for 40,000 miles. In other words it would take driving an e car for 40,000 miles just to get to the break even point. Then in a state like West Virginia 90% of electrical power is generated by burning fossil fuels. So your carbon footprint is actually larger in West Virginia if you drive a e car. Over all 50% of US power is generated by burning fossil fuels.  So the break even point is far past 40,000 miles. But car manufacturers are all excited because states are talking about forcing everyone to buy new cars. Right now people want used cars, not new cars. On top of that buying a used car is recycling so there is zero carbon footprint for buying used. All of this is simple high school science. What we need are some serious people in charge of the government acutally trying to solve this problem instead of profiting off it.

    First clue. If someone tells you climate change is a hoax or tells you we have to "fight" or worse still "stop" climate change they are telling you lies. Either intentionally or through ignorance.

    /end rant Let's stick to soccer.  

  4. Santiago 1314 replied, September 8, 2022 at 9:47 p.m.

    Bob, the only REAL Solution is Nuclear Power... I'm not Convinced That "Man" is the "Cause" of Global Warming (Climate Change){WETF is Going On}... But, if it is "Emissions" from "Oil", then Nukes are the only SERIOUS SOLUTION.!!!

  5. Perry McIntyre, September 6, 2022 at 11:57 a.m.

    Nouveau Vichy....

  6. Greg Gould, September 6, 2022 at 9:58 p.m.

    Lighten up Francis! It was a joke.

    Should have listened to Trump on energy.....

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