FIFA address Salt Bae antics after World Cup final amid claims of Infantino nepotism

Date published: Thursday 22nd December 2022 7:27 - Will Ford

Salt Bae

FIFA have released a statement having come under criticism over the antics of Turkish chef and celebrity Salt Bae after the World Cup final.

Nusret Gokce, nicknamed Salt Bae, is a Turkish butcher, chef, food entertainer and restaurateur whose technique for preparing and seasoning meat became an Internet meme in January 2017.

Owner of Nusr-Et, a chain of apparently very average but expensive steak houses, Gokce was welcomed on to the Lusail Stadium pitch to join the Argentina players while they were celebrating their World Cup win.

Gokce was seen harrassing Lionel Messi and his teammates for selfies and broke a FIFA rule by holding and kissing the World Cup trophy.

FIFA state on their website: ‘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.’

The governing body remained quiet on Sunday’s events until Thursday, when New York Times journalist Tariq Panja managed to get a response from them.

The statement read: ‘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.’

Panja then tweeted: ‘The dude shouldn’t have been on the field. The internal review will likely find some junior figure to blame. But the accountability for this should be at the very top, that’s where the relationship is.’

Gokce has a long-standing relationship with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who referred to the chef as a “legend” while at his Dubai restaurant in a video that’s resurfaced from Salt Bae’s Instagram page.

Infantino said in the video: “Mr Nusret, number one. The best of the best. An unforgettable evening here in Dubai with Nusret. I’ll come back.”

He added: “Legend, he’s a legend. Legend number one. Thank you very much.”

It’s since been announced that Salt Bae has been banned from attending the US Open Cup, the oldest football tournament in America.

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