This Person Wasn't Supposed to Be on World Cup Field

FIFA looking into how celeb chef Nusret Gokce, aka Salt Bae, ended up celebrating with Messi, team
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2022 11:28 AM CST

Protocol has it that only FIFA officials and the winning team are allowed to handle the World Cup trophy, but the soccer governing body has now launched an investigation after one person who wasn't supposed to be on the field Sunday after Argentina's victory had his hands all over it. Mixed in amid the festivities with team captain Lionel Messi, his teammates, and family members was celebrity chef Nusret Gokce, better known as Salt Bae.

In a series of images Gokce posted on his Instagram, the Turkish-born butcher and restaurateur, who owns the Nusr-Et steakhouse chain and has been parodied on Saturday Night Live, can be seen holding the World Cup trophy, pretending to do his trademark salt-sprinkling move over the trophy, and hobnobbing with Messi and others, per the Guardian. Sports Illustrated notes that as Gokce, who has a restaurant in Doha, sauntered around the field on Sunday, he had to try multiple times to grab the attention of Messi, who initially ignored him before finally appearing to pose with Gokce for a photo.

FIFA officials weren't pleased by the infiltration. "Following a review, FIFA has been establishing how individuals gained undue access to the pitch after the closing ceremony," the agency says in a statement, per the Guardian. "The appropriate internal action will be taken." SI notes that Gokce isn't the first celebrity to be criticized for "handling the World Cup trophy when they shouldn't have"—Rihanna took heat in 2014 after holding it at an after-party. (More Salt Bae stories.)

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