Lionel Messi snubs celebrity amid 'shameless' World Cup scenes

Celebrity chef 'Salt Bae' was slammed over scenes with Lionel Messi at the World Cup described as 'shameless' by viewers. Pic: Twitter
Celebrity chef 'Salt Bae' was slammed over scenes with Lionel Messi at the World Cup described as 'shameless' by viewers. Pic: Twitter

Celebrity chef 'Salt Bae' has been savaged by football fans over what many have described as a "shameless" moment with Lionel Messi after Argentina's World Cup triumph. Messi scored two goals and converted a penalty in the shootout as the Argentinians overcame France to claim the World Cup trophy for the third time in their history.

In what has been described by many as the greatest final in World Cup history, Messi cemented his legacy as one of the finest football players of all time to inspire Argentina to a first world title since Maradona's team in 1986. The 35-year-old capped off an incredible tournament by winning the Golden Ball as the best player at the World Cup.

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Many thought this tournament might have been Messi's international swan song but the Paris Saint-Germain star insisted afterwards that he was keen to play on. Nevertheless, it was all about the Argentinian magician after the final, with officials even sparking controversy by dressing him in a traditional robe before the presentation ceremony.

Salt Bae - whose real name is Nusret Gökçe - also wanted to get a piece of the action with Messi and somehow found his way alongside the World Cup hero, before the trophy presentation. The celebrity chef has cooked for the likes of David Beckham and Leonardo DiCaprio and clearly thought rubbing shoulders with Messi after the game was acceptable.

He was seen repeatedly grabbing Messi and pestering the Argentine ace for attention, in scenes slammed by viewers as "shameless" and "pathetic". Messi turned to look at him briefly at one point, before turning away in a brutal snub for the celebrity chef.

One user said: “The man’s just won the World Cup literally minutes prior and this ‘celebrity’ is feeling he’s entitled to get his attention." Others pointed out Salt Bae's insistence on getting selfies with Argentina's players and described the scenes as "cringeworthy".

The celebrity chef - who shot to fame in 2017 after a video of him flamboyantly sprinkling salt onto a piece of meat went viral - also came under fire after being captured holding the famous World Cup trophy. Such a privilege is generally only extended to players who have won the trophy and fans were furious with Salt Bae for breaking protocol so he could get his iconic selfie moment.

“You shouldn’t touch the Cup. You’re not a champion,” one user commented on social media. Another added: “You shouldn’t have touched that trophy, only the players and staff who worked their arses off to become champions have that right. You only want attention."

Salt Bae is not the first celebrity to commit a World Cup faux pas by handling the trophy, with pop star Rihanna coming under fire for doing likewise in 2014, when Germany won the title. The celebrity chef did end up getting a selfie with Messi in the end, after the Argentina captain added the one major trophy that had previously eluded him.

Messi cements legacy with elusive World Cup win

After the match, Messi responded to reports about his future in international football by declaring his intentions to play on for Argentina after their World Cup triumph. Rumours had been rife in the lead-up to the final that this would be the last time we see Messi playing for Argentina at international level.

“No, I’m not going to retire from the national team,” he said in a post-match interview. “I want to keep playing as World Cup champions in the Argentina shirt.”

Despite his desire to play on for Argentina, many believe this was Messi's swansong at the World Cup. He will be 39 by the time the next World Cup rolls around in 2026 and already owns the record for World Cup appearances after playing in his 26th game in the final.

Lionel Messi with the World Cup trophy and wife Antonela Roccuzzo. Image: Getty
Lionel Messi with the World Cup trophy and wife Antonela Roccuzzo. Image: Getty

"It's anyone's childhood dream," he said of Argentina's triumph. "I was lucky to have achieved everything in this career ... and this one that was missing is here. It's madness ... look how she (the World Cup) is, she's gorgeous. I wanted her so much. I had a vision that this would be the one ... she was getting closer."

Messi now joins the pantheon of football greats including Diego Maradona and Pele with the final trophy that has eluded him in his illustrious career. It had taken five attempts and a record 26 World Cup finals matches, but the boy from Rosario finally delivered on Sunday.

"We suffer, but we already have it (the World Cup)," Messi said. "I wanted to close my career with this, I can no longer ask for anything else, thank God, he gave me everything. But I love football and I want to continue living a few more games being world champion."

The FIFA World Cup 2022 was on SBS and SBS on Demand

with agencies

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