FIFA has been accused of cronyism after celebrity chef Salt Bae was allowed on the pitch to join Argentina’s World Cup celebrations.
The right to touch the trophy is reserved only for a select group of people, including players who have won it and heads of state, but those FIFA regulations did not apply for Salt Bae on Sunday.
After Lionel Messi and co. triumphed over France on penalties in arguably the most dramatic final of all-time, the famous cook took full advantage of exclusive access to the players and the trophy.
Fans have been left bewildered by images of Salt Bae, real name Nusret Gokce, appearing to bother the victorious players while they were trying to enjoy their incredible victory.
The chef, who rose to fame with his sprinkling technique and charges £1,450 for a steak, posted a number of images to his Instagram, including a photo alongside Argentine hero Messi.
However, footage has since emerged of Salt Bae being ignored by Messi twice, before the captain reluctantly agrees to pose for a picture.
The Turk also shared a clip in which he snatches the trophy from Cristian Romero, who was trying to have a moment with his son, before attempting to grab it from Lisandro Martinez.
Many have been quick to highlight Salt Bae’s close relationship with FIFA president Gianni Infantino – and world football’s governing body has declined to comment on the matter.
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For ex-Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan, that’s because FIFA has no leg to stand on.
“Maybe he thought he had a stake in the event,” Jordan joked in reference to the chef’s gimmick.
“Of course it’s cronyism. It absolutely is. You look at it and say, ‘Why would it happen?’ Then you see where Infantino eats when he’s over there.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s a ridiculous look. We’ve had Messi wearing a traditional Arab cloak, which was strange but I understand why they’ve done it.
“Now we have these highfalutin chefs who we’ve got a beef with because they’re going on the pitch.
“It defies convention, it breaks protocol. It looks like cronyism, it smells like cronyism, it walks and talks like cronyism, so guess what it is? It’s bleeding cronyism.
“It’s unprofessional. There’s no place for him. He shouldn’t have been on the pitch.”
Infantino made a concerted effort to be the center of attention during the World Cup – from that hour-long monologue to his unnecessarily lengthy involvement in the trophy lift.
And now Jordan suggests the FIFA president’s behavior has come back to bite him.
He added: “What are FIFA doing? When they stroll into town, they really let you know they’re there. It’s like the Vatican dropping into places.
“I’m surprised they would want this sort of scrutiny. By the very nature of Infantino flapping his gums, he has drawn extra attention to everything FIFA does. So you want the look to be right.
“You want standards to be upheld. You don’t need a highfalutin cook running around the pitch, putting his arm around a player who has just won the World Cup. Not necessary and not the look we want.”
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