US journalist dies at FIFA match in Qatar; brother says, ‘he was killed’

A US journalist, who was briefly detained in Qatar while wearing a rainbow shirt in support of the LGBTQ community, died on Friday. Grant Wahl, a soccer journalist came to Qatar to cover FIFA World Cup 2022, was detained on 21 November when he tried to enter Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan wearing a rainbow shirt. At that time Wahl was asked to take off his shirt as the country is not the proponent of same-sex marriages.

He said his phone was taken away when he tweeted about the incident. Wahl wrote he was detained for 25 minutes at the stadium, then was let go by a security commander. Wahl said FIFA apologized to him.

Now, after almost two weeks, Wahl died early Saturday while covering the World Cup match between Argentina and the Netherlands. Paramedics performed CPR at the scene before taking him away on a stretcher. The Wall Street Journal said Wahl apparently suffered a heart attack.

Wahl’s brother Eric has released a video where he is asking for help. Eric alleged there’s some foul play as his brother was healthy. In a video message, Eric is sobbing and saying, “”My name is Eric Wahl and I am Grant Wahl’s brother. I am gay and that’s a reason he wore the rainbow shirt to the world cup. My brother was healthy. He told me he received threats. I do not believe my brother just died. I believe he was killed. I just beg for help”.

Wahl’s wife Celine Gounder, a renowned epidemiologist and expert on infectious diseases tweeted: “I’m in complete shock”.

Wahl tweeted on Wednesday that he had celebrated his birthday that day. American reporters who knew Wahl said he was 49. Earlier this week, Wahl said in his subscription newsletter that he’d gone to a clinic at the media center in Qatar, “and they said I probably have bronchitis.”

“My body finally broke down on me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress, and lots of work can do that to you… I could feel my upper chest take on a new level of pressure and discomfort,” he wrote.

With some antibiotics and “some heavy duty cough syrup” Wahl said he was “feeling a bit better just a few hours later. But still: No bueno.”

Wahl in 1996 joined Sports Illustrated, at the time the premiere US sports publication, to report on soccer. He remained at the magazine until 2020, joining CBS Sports a year later.

He also had launched a subscription email newsletter platform, and was posting to that during the World Cup.

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