Lionel Messi has been trending not just because he finally won the World Cup for Argentina on Sunday but also because he seemed to ignore the advances of celebrity chef Salt Bae, who for some unexplainable reason stormed the pitch after the final whistle to pose with Messi.
As Argentina celebrated with the trophy for the first time in thirty-six years, Salt Bae was inexplicably allowed access to the pitch. Wearing a FIFA VIP badge round his neck, he is seen pulling Messi by his arm to come close for a photo opportunity. Messi seems unimpressed and tries to distance himself. But a persistent Salt Bae finally took the photo he wanted.
Lionel Messi is trending for ignoring Salt Bae at the World Cup celebration 😂 pic.twitter.com/m9aVT80Bs2
— Daily Loud (@DailyLoud) December 20, 2022
‘Salt Bae’, the name by which Turkish cook Nusret Gökçe is widely known, is later seen hogging the trophy while defender Christian Romero’s child tried to touch it. The 39-year-old was also seen pretending to sprinkle salt on it.
Salt Bae’s friendship with Infantino is well documented. Remember kids, you are who you surround yourself with… pic.twitter.com/8Yw0YuTx5r
— Manuel Veth (@ManuelVeth) December 20, 2022
How did Salt Bae manage to get close to Lionel Messi on the pitch?
Football pundits all over the world question FIFA and World Cup hosts Qatar for allowing the Turkish millionaire to get on the pitch. Football’s governing body has very strict rules surrounding the World Cup trophy, with a very specific list of those allowed to touch it listed on their website.
“Its current design dates back to 1974,” FIFA’s website reads. “As one of the most [recognized] 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 FIFAWorld Cup and heads of state.”
While he is a friend of FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Gökçe, the owner of a popular 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.
There has as of yet been no official confirmation, but during the tournament, FIFA President Gianni Infantino visited Salt Bea’s Qatar restaurant and remarked that “football unites the world and Nusret unites the world as well.”
Salt Bae was thrust into the spotlight back in 2017 after an iconic video of him sprinkling salt onto a steak went viral online.
The 39-year-old has since developed friendships with many high-profile celebrities, including a number of football stars who visit his restaurants on a regular basis.