Salt Bae: Who is he and why is he banned from the U.S. Open Cup?

Salt Bae at one of his many restaurants.
Image via Instagram

Salt Bae, also known as Nusret Gökçe, became a massive social media star in 2017 after a video of him prepping and seasoning a slice of meat went viral. What caught viewers’ attention was his signature moves, which consisted of him folding one of his arms and slowly sprinkling the salt onto the food.

Aside from being a social media star, Salt Bae is also a butcher, chef, and restaurant owner. He opened his first steakhouse, Nusr-Et, in 2010, in his hometown of Istanbul, Turkey, but later expanded to New York, Miami, and Texas following his newfound fame.

The 39 year old is making huge headlines because he was recently banned from the U.S. Open Cup following his actions at this year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar. According to its official site, the U.S. Open Cup is a national cup competition in United States soccer where both amateur and professional players have an equal chance of winning the championship. 

In the final game on Dec.18, Argentina was named the winner after playing against France. During the celebration, Salt Bae managed to make his way onto the field and not only hold the trophy, which is reportedly worth about $20 million but also kiss it. 

What made matters even worse was that he asked members of the Argentinean soccer team, including Lionel Andrés Messi, to take photos with him. Two days after the incident, the U.S. Open Cup revealed on their Twitter page that Salt Bae was prohibited from attending the 2023 finals.

Although FIFA has yet to publicly share the type of punishment Salt Bae will face because of the event, news outlets have revealed that the organization started an investigation to see how he could get to the field without being apprehended.

Salt Bae’s actions violated World Cup guidelines because, during monumental moments like winning the championship, the only people that are allowed to be present are the players and staff. The company said in a statement to SKY Sports:

“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,”

Since FIFA’s announcement, Salt Bae hasn’t removed the photos of Argentina’s players on his social media page and has yet to comment on the recent developments.