Fifa launches investigation into Salt Bae gatecrashing during World Cup celebrations in Argentina

Salt Bae with the World Cup trophy – Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Fifa has launched an investigation and promised ‘internal action’ into how celebrity chef Salt Bae shamelessly staged Argentina’s World Cup victory celebrations.

The World Cup is supposed to be touched or owned only by a very select group of people, but the Turkish leader – once described by Fifa President Gianni Infantino as ‘legend number one’ – has even been recorded playing kissing the golden trophy after Argentina’s historic triumph.

He also made a series of commendable attempts to get Lionel Messi’s attention, even though the Argentina captain didn’t seem to know who he was.

The footage has caused considerable outrage and Fifa has now issued a statement admitting the leader, whose real name is Nusret Gokce, should not have been on the pitch during Argentina’s historic moment of glory.

“After a review, Fifa has established how individuals gained improper access to the pitch after the closing ceremony at Lusail Stadium on December 18 – appropriate internal action will be taken,” a spokesperson said.

There is no formal business relationship between Fifa and Gokce, which has steakhouses in Dubai and Doha, but a video has emerged of Fifa President Gianni Infantino openly endorsing ‘Nusr-Et’ restaurants in the chief.

Gokce first rose to fame in 2017 following a social media post of his theatrical preparation of meat and, bearing Fifa accreditation, he became an embarrassing presence on the pitch after Sunday’s final .

Videos show his clumsy attempts to lift the World Cup trophy and pose for photos alongside Argentine players, despite having no obvious connection to either team. In one video, he even gives the trophy a solid smack, then mimes pouring salt on top. He also gives him a kiss and holds him in the air. Fifa has very specific rules designed to preserve the mystique and prestige of the World Cup, which is the most famous and recognizable trophy in world sport.

“Its current design dates back to 1974,” says Fifa’s website. “As one of the world’s most recognized sporting symbols 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 d former FIFA World Cup winners and Heads of State.

Gokce’s involvement has prompted accusations of “cronyism”, particularly after separate photos and videos emerged of him being hugged by Infantino, who also introduces him to various dignitaries. In one, Infantino applauds Gokce cutting meat as if he had just witnessed something extraordinary. “Number one, the best of the best,” says Infantino.

It is understood that Infantino was not involved in sanctioning Gokce’s appearance on the pitch after the World Cup final and that ‘internal action’ will relate to any Fifa staff who have authorized access.

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