REVEALED: Steakhouse magnate Salt Bae broke FIFA’s rules by holding the World Cup… as football chiefs face questions on why the celeb-chasing chef was allowed access to the pitch
FIFA are facing questions after celebrity chef Nusret Gokce – better known as Salt Bae – somehow gained access to the pitch at the Lusail Stadium after the World Cup final, and was seen touching the iconic trophy.
Gokce was seen grabbing Argentina’s captain Lionel Messi in an attempt to draw his attention, although he was repeatedly rebuffed by the PSG star.
The infamous chef remained on the pitch among the celebrating Argentinian players and contravened FIFA’s strict rules on who may touch the World Cup trophy – which Messi and Co lifted after a stunning final that ended on penalties.
Salt Bae – aka Nusret Gokce – has contravened FIFA’s rules over who may touch the World Cup trophy
Football’s governing body have very strict rules surrounding the trophy, and there is a very specific list of those allowed to actually touch it, according to their website.
‘Its current design dates back to 1974,’ the website says. ‘As one of the most recognised sports symbols in the world and a priceless icon, the original Fifa World Cup Trophy can only be touched and held by a very select group of people, which includes former winners of the Fifa World Cup and heads of state.’
Although a fast friend of notorious FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Gokce – the owner of a steak restaurant chain – does not fall under any of the criteria above, and therefore appears to be in contravention of this particular set of guidelines.
He was seen attempting to catch Lionel Messi’s attention only for the PSG star to initially ignore him
He was also pictured with official FIFA accreditation while on the pitch on Sunday evening, although the governing body has not commented on how this happened.
The restaurant magnate was spotted on the pitch with celebrating Argentina players
Gokce’s friendship with Infantino is well-documented, with the latter visiting the former’s Qatar steakhouse during the tournament, and can be heard in a video saying: ‘Football unites the world and Nusret unites the world as well.’
Should there be any suggestion that Gokce was in fact granted official accreditation by FIFA, this could leave them vulnerable to insinuations of special treatment for those close to their Swiss-born president.
Salt Bae – which derives from his infamous method of salting the meat he serves at his expensive restaurants – is no stranger to interest from the game’s biggest stars, with a litany of football icons frequenting his establishments on a regular basis.
However, in Messi he found someone who appeared less than willing to grant him any attention on the day that saw him arguably fire himself into the conversation of football immortality at last, although he did eventually pose for a photo.
Even those who do fit the bill to touch the trophy were criticised for taking to the field, with French president Emmanuel Macron part of a high-profile bid to rouse defeated hat-trick hero Kylian Mbappe’s spirits after the final whistle.
Messi eventually allowed Gokce a photo of the pair although he appeared far from pleased about it