Nusret Gokce, more famously known as Salt Bae was caught in the web of controversy when he appeared on the pitch after Argentina had won the World Cup in Qatar in December.
The celebrity chef was slammed for trying to steal the limelight from the Argentinian players when he posed with the World Cup trophy in his hands, a gesture which added to the furore. Even captain Lionel Messi looked annoyed at his behaviour.
“It was a combination of my love of Argentina and my excitement. I love Argentina; I’ve lived there. I went to support them. Many of [the team] have come to the restaurant. I didn’t feel a stranger. It was a special moment. I can’t do anything about the reason I was there, but I would never, ever step on the World Cup pitch again. There were two billion people watching the World Cup… How many people are speaking about me? Five billion. The whole world,” he said recently in an interview with the Times as per talkSPORT.
“I didn’t go on the pitch with the purpose of advertising; I just felt like it. Then it was a bit of a surprise. There were at least another 1,000 people on the pitch but when they show the video they make out it was just me. I never, ever wanted to overshadow anything. I didn’t like the attention. I didn’t kick anyone, steal anything,” he added.
Bae had drawn the ire of FIFA as well with the governing body saying, “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.”
Following his shenanigans, Salt Bae was also banned from the 2023 US Open Cup, one of United States’ oldest and most prestigious soccer tournaments.