PARIS - French Prime Minister Manuel Valls came under fire Tuesday for taking a government jet to watch the Champions League final over the weekend in Berlin with his two sons in tow.
The controversy spurred President Francois Hollande to leap to the premier's defence on Monday saying Valls was on an official trip to meet with the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).
Born in Barcelona in 1962, the French prime minister is a huge fan of Barca which won Europe's most prestigious club competition against Italy's Juventus 3-1 on Saturday.
Opposition politicians have demanded Valls apologise and reimburse the cost of the trip to Berlin where the match took place.
Their anger was further stoked when it emerged Valls had taken his sons with him on the plane.
"So we learn that two of his children were on the trip to Berlin... the least Valls can do is pay it back," wrote opposition lawmaker Thierry Mariani of The Republicans opposition party in a tweet.
And European lawmaker and former justice minister Rachida Dati tweeted: "The reality is that the Paris-Berlin family flight took off. But employment, still has not!"
Hollande said on Monday that Valls was on an official trip and had "matters to discuss" with UEFA around the holding of the Euro 2016 football championship in France and the corruption scandal engulfing FIFA.
"The goal was not to go and support Barca, the goal was to represent France," said state secretary for sports Thierry Braillard.
"The children's presence in the plane adds nothing to the cost of the flight," said a source in the prime minister's entourage.