French PM gets chequebook out after Champions League trip

French PM gets chequebook out after Champions League trip
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls listens to a debate on a vote of no confidence over a key package of reforms designed to energise the country's sluggish economy, at the National Assembly in Paris, on June 18, 2015.
PHOTO: Reuters

PARIS - France's prime minister has written a cheque for 2,500 euros ($2,800) to settle a trip to the Champions League final in Berlin with his two sons that landed him in hot water.

Manuel Valls, a fan of his native Barcelona, faced a torrent of criticism for his visit to the game in the Olympic Stadium which did not appear on his official agenda.

He said he was invited by European football boss Michel Platini to discuss next year's Euro-2016 championships in France, but this did not calm the storm and Valls finally vowed to refund the cost of the trip for his two children.

His decision to take a Falcon jet to the game went down badly in a country where one in 10 is unemployed, and he later admitted it was a "blunder." "I gave the impression to the French people that I had not devoted myself to them. I am sorry," said the contrite premier.

The payment from his personal chequebook will take a complicated route.

Valls made the cheque out to the public treasury but it will eventually return to... the prime minister's office, whereupon it will be used to pay the air force for use of the Falcon.

The prime minister will at least have been happy with the result: his beloved Barca beat Italian giants Juventus 3-1.

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