Monday, January 30, 2023
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US Journalist Grant Wahl Dies Days After Brief Detention In Qatar Over Rainbow Shirt

It is still unclear whether Grant died in hospital or during transport.

New Delhi:

American journalist Grant Wahl, who was detained in Qatar for wearing a rainbow shirt in support of the LGBTQ community, died while covering the FIFA World Cup, his brother announced today.

Grant, 48, collapsed on Friday when he covered the quarterfinal between Argentina and the Netherlands at the Lusail Iconic Stadium.

Grant’s brother, Eric, claimed the Qatar government may have been involved in the death of the former Sports Illustrated journalist.

“My name is Eric Wahl. I live in Seattle, Washington. I’m Grant Wahl’s brother. I’m gay,” he said in a video posted to Instagram. “I’m the reason he wore the rainbow shirt to the World Cup. My brother was healthy. He told me he got death threats. I don’t believe my brother just died. I believe he was murdered. Help.”

At the start of the World Cup, Grant had said that World Cup security had denied him access to the United States opener against Wales at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan and asked him to remove his rainbow shirt. He said his phone was taken away when he tweeted about the incident.

He added that a security officer at the venue later approached him to apologize and let him into the stadium. He had also received an apology from a FIFA representative, he had said.

It is still unclear whether Grant died in hospital or during transport.

“We’re still trying to figure it out,” Eric said. “He collapsed in the stadium, was given CPR, was taken to the hospital by Uber and died according to Celine. We just spoke to the State Department and Celine spoke to Ron Klain and the White House.”

Earlier this week, Grant said in his newsletter that he had gone to a clinic in the media center in Qatar for a check-up. The doctors there said, “I probably have bronchitis.”

“My body finally gave out. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and a lot of work can do that to you…I felt my upper chest take on a new level of pressure and discomfort,” Grant wrote in his newsletter.

He said he “felt a little better a few hours later. But still: no bueno.”

According to rights groups, there are concerns about the rights of fans traveling to the event, especially LGBT+ individuals and women, who are being discriminated against by the government of Qatar.

The U.S. Soccer Association said in a statement it was “heartbroken” to learn of Grant’s death, adding that he will continue to be “an inspiration to all.”

“The entire US Soccer family is heartbroken to hear that we have lost Grant Wahl,” the US Soccer Federation said. “Here in the United States, Grant’s passion for football and dedication to raising its profile in our sporting landscape played a major role in driving interest in and respect for our beautiful game. Equally important was Grant’s belief in the power of the game to advance in the field of human rights was and remains an inspiration to everyone.”

Grant’s wife, Celine Gounder, an epidemiologist and infectious disease expert, expressed her shock on social media.

“I am so thankful for the support of my husband @GrantWahl’s football family and so many friends who have reached out tonight. I am in complete shock,” she wrote on Twitter.

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