Social media sensation chef “Salt Bae” has been banned from a prestigious soccer tournament in the United States following backlash for violating FIFA’s golden rule on the pitch after the World Cup final, local media reported on Thursday.
Turkish celebrity chef Salt Bae, whose real name is Nusret Gökçe, was seen on the pitch after Argentina beat France in a penalty shoot-out to secure the trophy for the first time since 1986. He posed alongside Argentina players, bit into a medal, held the World Cup trophy, which is forbidden by FIFA, and even kissed it.
FIFA rules state that the 18-carat gold trophy, which is estimated to be worth around £17.7 million, can only be touched and held by winners of the World Cup and heads of state.
A video showing Lionel Messi trying to ignore the chef after the game, with Salt Bae pursuing him through the crowd and grabbing at his arm to force a handshake picture, was widely shared on social media.
Lionel Messi is trending for ignoring Salt Bae at the World Cup celebration 😂 pic.twitter.com/m9aVT80Bs2
— Daily Loud (@DailyLoud) December 20, 2022
Following his widely denounced behavior at the World Cup final, the US Open Cup, the oldest and most prestigious soccer tournament in America, said in a tweet that they were banning the celebrity chef from attending the showpiece event of their 2023 competition.
Salt Bae is hereby banned from the 2023 @opencup Final
— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) December 20, 2022
Gökçe owns a global chain of Nusr-Et restaurants and is known as Salt Bae for his theatrical, cobra-like style of sprinkling salt on his steaks.
He went viral in 2017 after posting videos of himself salting meat and now has nearly 50 million Instagram followers. His restaurants in the Middle East, New York and Miami charge several hundred dollars for some cuts of meat.