US Journalist Dies Days After Brief Detention In Qatar Over Rainbow Shirt

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

New Delhi:

US 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 while covering the quarterfinal match between Argentina and the Netherlands at the Lusail Iconic Stadium on Friday.

Grant’s brother, Eric, alleged that the Qatari 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 am Grant Wahl’s brother. I’m gay,” he said in a video posted on Instagram. “I’m the reason he wore the rainbow shirt to the World Cup. My brother was healthy. He told me he received death threats. I do not believe my brother just died. I believe he was killed. And I just beg for any help.”

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

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

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

“We’re still trying to find out,” Eric said. “He collapsed at the stadium, was given cpr, was taken by Uber to hospital and died according to Celine. We just spoke with the state department and Celine has spoken to Ron Klain and the White House.”

Earlier this week, Grant had said in his newsletter that he had gone to a clinic at the media centre in Qatar for a check-up. The doctors there 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,” Grant wrote in his newsletter.

He said he was “feeling a bit better just a few hours later. But still: No bueno.”

There have been concerns over the rights of fans travelling to the event, especially LGBT+ individuals and women, who are discriminated against by the Qatari government, according to rights groups.

The US Soccer body said in a statement that it was “heartbroken” to learn about Grant’s death, adding that he will remain “an inspiration to all”.

“The entire US Soccer family is heartbroken to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl,” the US Soccer Federation said. “Here in the United States, Grant’s passion for soccer and commitment to elevating its profile across our sporting landscape played a major role in helping to drive interest in and respect for our beautiful game. As important, Grant’s belief in the power of the game to advance human rights was, and will remain, an inspiration to all.”

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

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