Fifa investigating how chef Salt Bae got on to World Cup final pitch

Influencer and restaurateur Nusret Gökçe seen pretending to sprinkle salt over trophy and celebrating with Argentina in defiance of strict rules on access

Fifa has launched an investigation into how social media influencer chef and restaurateur Salt Bae and others got access to the pitch after the World Cup final in Qatar.

The Turkish chef, who owns a string of his Nusr-Et restaurants in cities including London, Dubai and New York, was shown holding, kissing and pretending to sprinkle salt on the World Cup trophy, and interrupting Argentina players’ celebrations after their penalty shootout victory over France.

The trophy is only supposed to be touched or held by a select group of people, including tournament winners and Fifa officials.

Salt Bae, whose real name is Nusret Gökçe, could also be seen trying to get the attention of Argentina captain Lionel Messi after the game. Photographs were later posted to Gökçe’s Instagram account.

A statement by the governing body 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 did his signature salt-sprinkling gesture over the trophy, held here by Argentina’s Lisandro Martinez.
Gökçe did his signature salt-sprinkling gesture over the trophy, held here by Argentina’s Lisandro Martinez. Photograph:

Gökçe went viral on social media in 2017 after a video showed his over the top method of preparing and seasoning steak in front of diners.

Since then he has established a chain of more than 20 restaurants. His west London eatery opened in September 2021, notoriously featuring a tomahawk steak wrapped in gold for £2,000.

David Beckham, Leonardo DiCaprio and the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, are among well-known diners to visit his restaurant.

In the aftermath of Argentina’s third World Cup win on Sunday, Gökçe could be seen walking around the pitch and trying to pose with bemused players, including Lisandro Martinez.

Fifa head Gianni Infantino visited one of his restaurants in Dubai in January 2021, where he could be seen alongside Gökçe, mimicking his trademark salt-seasoning pose.

“Mr Nusrat, number one, the best of the best, unforgettable evening in Dubai,” Infantino said on the video, before calling him a “legend”.

Gökçe posted a video during the World Cup of him embracing Infantino, and he was later pictured in VIP seats alongside Brazil players Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Cafu.


Harry Taylor

The GuardianTramp

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