Salt Bae banned from major football tournament after ‘upsetting behaviour’

CHICAGO (Agencies): Dubai-based chef Nusret Gökçe, popularly known as Salt Bae, has been banned by US Open Cup — the oldest national soccer competition in the US — after his antics at the FIFA World Cup final upset fans. FIFA has launched an investigation to find out how he gained “undue access” to the pitch and has promised to take action.

On Wednesday, the Open Cup’s official Twitter account declared a ban on the celebrity chef for their championship final in 2023, which features about 100 teams from various levels. The tweet has reached almost 17 million accounts and has thousands of retweets and comments, mostly approving this decision.

There has been a lot of chatter surrounding Salt Bae following the FIFA final — and not in a positive light. Photos and videos of him have been circulating on social media, many shared by himself, where he grabbed the trophy out of a player’s hands, posed with it and bit another player’s medal.

These antics have dismayed fans, who have openly expressed their disapproval online. What many have wondered is how the 39-year-old Turkish restaurateur got onto the pitch in the first place. They are also bringing up the fact that Gökçe broke FIFA rules since the trophy can only be held by tournament winners and the likes of FIFA officials and heads of state.

According to AFP, FIFA are probing into the matter. “Following a review, FIFA has been establishing how individuals gained undue access to the pitch after the closing ceremony at Lusail stadium on December 18,” a spokesman told BBC. “The appropriate internal action will be taken.”

This is not Salt Bae’s first controversy. He was sued for $5 million in 2021 for misusing artwork featuring himself. He had commissioned one mural but ended up using it for his restaurants around the world and as a logo. He has also been recently criticised for the ridiculously high prices at his eateries.

Gökçe owns a chain of luxury restaurants around the world including Beverly Hills in Los Angeles and London’s swish Knightsbridge.
His technique for preparing and seasoning meat with salt has become an internet meme.