FIFA has finally addressed Salt Bae’s behaviour at the World Cup final, after the steakhouse tycoon was seen celebrating with players on the pitch.
Last weekend, the 2022 tournament drew to a close after Argentina beat France on penalties during the nail-biting final in Qatar.
In footage after the game had finished, Salt Bae (Nusret Gökçe) could be seen hounding the likes of Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria and Lisandro Martinez for a selfie – and even broke an official FIFA rule by kissing and holding the 18-carat gold World Cup trophy.
Now FIFA has confirmed it is looking to take action for those who gained ‘undue access’ to the pitch as the winners were presented with their medals and trophy.
Journalist Tariq Panja is among those who have been chasing the governing body for a response in the wake of the final.
Earlier today (Thursday 22 December), he tweeted: “Finally a response. FIFA suggests meat guy gatecrashed celebration.”
Panja then shared the statement, which 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.”
Gökçe, 39, came under fire after he was seen attempting to grab Argentinian captain Lionel Messi – who seemed to be trying to ignore him, opting to hug his teammates instead.
He eventually managed to get a selfie with the footballer, posting it to Instagram.
Gökçe also shared a snap of him cradling the coveted trophy, proudly flaunting himself touching an item that is supposed to be reserved for a ‘select group of people’, including winners.
As outlined on FIFA’s website, the winners’ trophy is only meant to be held by former winning athletes and heads of state.
It 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.”
Gökçe is, of course, none of these things.
The Times' sport correspondent Martyn Ziegler shared a screenshot of Salt Bae holding the trophy on Twitter, writing: “I’d love to hear FIFA’s explanation of why this celebrity chef gets access onto the pitch at a World Cup final for selfies with Messi etc.”
Fellow sports journalist André Noruega also shared a screenshot showing the official rules surrounding the trophy, which explain it ‘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’.
He said: “Uhm, okay then. Salt Bae is either a World Cup winner or head of state, then.”