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So What Exactly Was Salt Bae Doing During Argentina's World Cup Celebration?

Celeb chef Nusret Gökçe not only took to the pitch to celebrate Argentina’s win, he was seen kissing the iconic trophy.

By Andrew Woodin
Nusret Goekce, nicknamed Salt Bae, admires the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Winner's Trophy after the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final match

Reaching celebrity status for the way in which he salts his meats – hey, it’s the truth – Nusret Gökçe is a well-known steakhouse restauranteur in the region and has rubbed elbows with FIFA president Gianni Infantino. The latter might explain how he managed to access the pitch after Argentina’s sublime final victory over France in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Hell-bent on hobnobbing with the winners, the thirsty socialite who has establishments around the world, including New York, Miami, and in host nation Qatar, gained field access at Lusail Stadium immediately following Argentina’s historic win over Les Bleus that came down to penalty kicks. Suited and booted with his phone juiced and ready to snap up all the action, it was time for the Turkish chef to feed his nearly 50 million Instagram followers (remember, he’s famous for literally salting steaks). First domino was Angel Di Maria, then Lisandro Martinez and Lablo Dybala. All of the mighty footy titans of Argentina’s sensational squad were at his fingertips, but “Bae” clearly had his lens set on the biggest fish in the sea. After much pestering, His Saltness finally managed to cajole a reluctant Lionel Messi into at least appearing to look in the general direction of a camera, though the Argentinian captain did rebuff the 39-year-old’s initial attempts for a forced photo op. But that wasn't the only eyebrow-raising moment.

RELATED: Here’s What The USMNT Has Been Up To Since Its World Cup Exit

In true self-aggrandizing fashion, Gokce lingered around the pitch throughout the celebration, and at one point, after mimicking his signature salting maneuver, something compelled the foodie to pick up the fabled trophy and kiss it. Yes, you heard correctly. A guy who carves up gold-plated steaks that he sells to upper-crusters for hundreds of dollars a pop locked lips with the most sacred prize in football.

It doesn’t take a genius to guess that’s probably a no-no, but if in doubt as to whether an outsider defiling the World Cup trophy with a kiss rises to the clear level of blasphemy, know this: football’s governing body FIFA has strict rules around the precious trophy, and for good reason. Standing at 36.5 centimeters tall, the World Cup trophy weighs a hefty 6.175 kilograms of 18-karat gold. The value of the gold alone is in excess of $160,000, though the trophy as a whole is reportedly valued at around $20 million. Thus, according to the FIFA website, the honor of physically handling the legendary trophy is reserved for players, coaches and dignitaries including former winners and heads of state. Again, burgeoning social media moguls beware, you didn’t make the cut.

Naturally, the social media stunt backfired on the chef when Instagram and Twitter erupted in disapproval of him holding the trophy. He's not the first celebrity to put their hands on the celebrated totem. But at least when Rihanna held the trophy in 2014, she was at an after party and not out on the field, taking part in the celebration like she had something to do with it. Even then, that’s the unquestionably awesome nine-time Grammy Award-winning Rihanna. Not a fame-hungry dude known for slinging over-priced meat.

Can't get enough soccer action? After the World Cup is over, be sure to watch Premier League coverage on USA Network, featuring Premier League Mornings, select matches, and Premier League Goal Zone (check listings for games/schedule). And catch up on all the action on Peacock.

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