Fifa investigating Salt Bae’s ‘undue access’ to pitch after World Cup final

Famous chef was seen ‘grabbing’ Lionel Messi as Argentina celebrated

Liam James
Thursday 22 December 2022 21:40 GMT
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Salt Bae pretends to sprinkle salt on World Cup trophy

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Fifa is investigating how celebrity chef Salt Bae and others gained “undue access” to the pitch after the World Cup final in Qatar.

Salt Bae, a Turkish chef and restaurateur whose real name is Nusret Gokce, was pictured holding and kissing the World Cup trophy alongside Argentina players after their win over France.

The Fifa World Cup Trophy, which is made of solid gold and depicts two figures holding up the globe, can only be touched and held by a select group of people. This includes former winners and heads of state, according to Fifa.

Football fans were infuriated after Mr Gokce, who is also a social media personality, was seen “grabbing” Argentina’s star player Lionel Messi on the pitch.

In a statement, a Fifa spokesperson said: “Following a review, Fifa has been establishing how individuals gained undue access to the pitch after the closing ceremony at Lusail stadium on 18 December.

“The appropriate internal action will be taken.”

The Independent has contacted Mr Gokce’s representative for comment.

Salt Bae grabs the World Cup
Salt Bae grabs the World Cup (Getty)

The chef rose to fame in 2017 after a video of him sprinkling salt onto a steak went viral, earning him his now-famous nickname.

Following Argentina’s win on Sunday, Mr Gokce was seen tapping Messi on the shoulder and grabbing his arms. After Messi appears to ignore him, Mr Gokce touches his arm again and the footballer turns around and quickly shakes his hand before walking off.

Salt Bae on the pitch in Qatar
Salt Bae on the pitch in Qatar (Getty)

Mr Gokce later posted a TikTok video of him standing on the pitch next to Angel Di Maria whilst holding the trophy. In the clip, the chef smiles and slaps the trophy before walking away.

Another picture shows him biting Franco Armani’s gold first-place medal, while it was still around the neck of the goalkeeper.

Messi walks off the pitch with protection after World Cup win
Messi walks off the pitch with protection after World Cup win (Getty)

Fans were unimpressed with Mr Gokce’s involvement in Argentina’s celebrations. Many online questioned why he was allowed to hold the trophy and enter the pitch.

Mr Gokce owns steakhouses in London, New York, Los Angeles and Turkey.

Footballers including David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Mesut Ozil and Sergio Aguero have eaten at his restaurants, which have also proved popular with other celebrities.

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