Salt Bae is still a thing in 2022. I know it. I saw him. Hovering around the sidelines of the FIFA World Cup final like an influencer buzzard circling to find a carcass to take a selfie with. In the process he stepped way across the line by grabbing the cup itself from celebrating Argentinian players so he could get his Instagram moments, infuriating them in the process.
Nusret Gökçe, who goes simply by “Nusret” or his internet moniker “Salt Bae” was like a fly on shit from the second the cup was awarded. He buzzed around the tropy trying desperately to get his hands on the thing, going so far as to pull it from Christian Romero’s hands while he was celebrating with his son.
Within minutes Salt Bae’s Instagram was littered with photos of him holding the cup aloft — an honor traditionally reserved only for the players and coaches of a team who won the World Cup, or heads of state. It’s supremely disrespectful to just grab at the cup for yourself, and undermines almost 50 years of tradition.
In his desperation to get it for the ‘gram he also pulled in an extremely confused Lionel Messi for a photo — and Messi’s face is absolutely that of someone thinking “why am I taking a photo with Salt Bae?”
It should be noted that this is a really truncated version of the full incident. In fact, Messi pretty much completely blew off Nusret during his numerous attempts to get a photo — and this was the only usable moment from their run-in. Which is probably why we have a still image posted on Nusret’s account, and not the video itself.
Salt Bae harassing the GOAT for clout at the most important moment in his life. Look at Messi’a face pic.twitter.com/PCmDN3MT62— Heydon Prowse (@HeydonProwse) December 19, 2022
Nusret Gökçe, the Turkish butcher and steak restauranteur made famous for cascading fleur de sel off his forearms so diners can taste his kitchen sweat, was given field passes for the final — presumably from Qatari organizers. His “Nusret Doha” restaurant is where Salt Bae makes his home now, and the restaurant located inside the Sheraton hotel has become a must-visit for those who have more dollar than sense, preferring to overspend on the pretense of “luxury,” rather than eat at a local spot that’s far more authentic, honest, and appealing.
Winning a World Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime moment for most players. The game moves too fast for many to be selected to multiple cups, let alone get the opportunity to hoist it more than once. Some of the greatest players to ever lace up their boots have never even touched the thing — but now Salt Bae has. For Argentina’s players they’ll obviously never forget the time they won the cup, but it’s also weirdly inexorably linked to that time an internet famous meat butcher harassed them and their families.
In many ways this was the absolute perfect end to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Tradition and honor being flushed down the toilet in service of shallow, vapid brand building. Clout chasing on the grandest stage in sports, and confused athletes forced to endure weird glad-handed bullshittery interrupting their moment. It’s the shambolic end FIFA earned.