The Argentines around Lionel Messi celebrate their World Cup triumph exuberantly.
Right in the middle: a Turkish chef whose demeanor is reminiscent of Peter Feldmann.
Doha - Even though football is a team sport, even before the trophy was handed over after the 2022 World Cup final, all Argentines flocked to Lionel Messi.
When the trophy was finally handed over - which took a little longer than necessary due to FIFA boss Gianni Infantino - the number 10 apparently had no desire for one person at all: "Salt Bae" Nusret Gökçe.
Salt Bae, best known for his theatrical salting of golden steaks, strolled the field at the Lusail Iconic Stadium during the celebrations, showing keen interest in the World Cup trophy - a nod to Frankfurt's former Lord Mayor Peter Feldmann.
Turkish chef Nusret Gokçe, nicknamed "Salt Bae", during a soccer match between AC Milan and SSC Napoli.
© Miguel Medina/AFP
Like Feldmann, Gökçe probably thought that, for whatever reason, he was entitled to the trophy.
A number of videos are circulating online showing that the Turkish chef tried his luck with Lionel Messi, among others.
Argentina's captain was initially confused, then ignored Salt Bae, but then apparently gave in later - as a photo of Gökçe on Instagram shows, reports fnp.de.
Salt Bae snatches World Cup trophy: 'You're not a champion'
Shortly thereafter, the chef was sharply criticized online.
"You shouldn't touch the World Cup.
You are not a champion” and “Why do you hold it [the trophy] and why are you on the field?
You shouldn't be there.
This is the time for players who have worked hard, not celebrities, to hang around and take selfies for their own promo," read among the multiple photos posted by Gökçe.
In fact, photos with FIFA boss Infantino, some Argentinian internationals and the Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani adorn the Turk's Instagram profile.
Salt Bae finally got a photo with the object of his desire when he met Argentina midfielder Ángel Di María.
You can see how Gökçe poses together with Di María and the World Cup trophy and gives a courageous "meow" - which elicits at least a "thumbs up" gesture from the visibly confused Argentine.
Shortly afterwards, the chef can be seen trying to snatch the trophy from central defender Cristian Romero and gesturing towards Romero's child that the trophy belongs to him.
These are pictures that should give shivers down the spine, especially for fans of Eintracht Frankfurt.
In contrast to Salt Bae, Feldmann later apologized for the "cup theft".
A Twitter user who also had memories of Peter Feldmann summed up the behavior as "just embarrassing".
What the then mayor Peter Feldmann was to Eintracht Frankfurt, the Turkish chef Salt Bae is to Argentina: just embarrassing🥴 pic.twitter.com/4c0xPayjtD
— EsWerdeLicht (@EsLicht) December 19, 2022
Unclear situation: World Cup trophy is “only for a very select group”.
How exactly Salt Bae got to the newly crowned world champions is unclear.
After all, according to FIFA, the World Cup trophy "may only be touched and held by a very select group of people", including heads of state and former and current world champions - chefs and influencers are not mentioned in the association's statutes.
journalist Martyn Ziegler would like to have the answer directly from the world association: "I would like to hear FIFA explain why this prominent chef is allowed on the field at a World Cup final to take selfies with Messi." (nak)
List of rubrics: © Miguel Medina/AFP