Lionel Messi
Watch: Soccer Star Lionel Messi Waves From Airport Window As He Arrives In Paris To Join PSG Photo by Gustavo Pagano/Getty Images

Not many people are happy with football star Lionel Messi as it has emerged that his private jet took 52 trips in three months.

The Paris Saint-Germain star leases a 12 million pounds ($1,33,51,740) worth of luxury jet for his travels around the world. But he wasn’t always on board, as he made the aircraft available to his family and friends, according to Get French Football News. He recently returned to PSG after representing his country Argentina on their tour of the U.S. Now the 35-year-old is being slammed over his carbon footprint by the French media.

L'Equipe reported that his private plane made as many as 52 trips (totalling 368 hours) between June and August 2022. The trips produced 1,502 tons of carbon dioxide, which is the same amount an average French individual would emit in 150 years. Sports only accounts for 1% of France’s greenhouse gas emissions. But many activists have pointed to the role that professional players have in influencing others, as well as their responsibility in setting an example.

According to Sport Bible, the use of private jets in French football has been under the spotlight in recent weeks. It happened after PSG head coach Christophe Galtier dismissed a question related to his side's use of the form of transport to away games. He was asked why PSG traveled by private plane to an away match against Nantes. It is only two hours away by train. Galtier joked that the team members were exploring the option of traveling by "sand yacht." It prompted a laugh from footballer Kylian Mbappe who was sitting beside him.

His comment was slammed in France after which the PSG boss offered an apology. Galtier said that he regretted it, and noted that "these days you can't have a laugh." He shared that it was a joke at the wrong time, but "believe me I am concerned about the planet's problems." He said that he knows the responsibility they have, and he has heard that "we're disconnected, that's not the case."

Galtier agreed that the joke was "in bad taste, but to turn it into a scandal and makes us look like something we're not." He shared that his players care a lot about the climate, the "club cares a lot about that. We went to Lille by bus. We're aware of what's at stake." He said that he regretted the comment, but he thought it's "difficult to have a laugh in France. Even if my joke wasn't great and I quickly realized it when I got home."

Virtually all of away travel by Ligue 1 sides is said to be done using private jets. PSG is reportedly among the worst offenders. On the other hand, Montpellier uses private planes the least. The team members traveled by coach to seven of their away matches.

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi of Argentina looks on during a training session at Inter Miami Training Camp on September 21, 2022 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Gustavo Pagano/Getty Images

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