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10th Dec 2022

Grant Wahl’s devastated brother claims he was killed in Qatar over rainbow T-shirt row

Steve Hopkins

‘I do not believe my brother just died’

Grant Wahl’s heartbroken brother has claimed the American journalist was killed over wearing a rainbow T-shirt after news broke overnight that he had died while covering the World Cup in Qatar.

“I do not believe my brother just died. I believe he was killed,” Eric Wahl said in an emotional video posted to social media.

Grant, 48, collapsed as extra time began in the Argentina-Netherlands game in Doha, with early reports suggesting he may have had a heart attack. That has not been officially confirmed.

US media sat near him have said Grant fell back in his seat before other journalists called for help. Emergency services rushed to the scene but Grant, who had earlier made headlines when he claimed he was refused entry to a game for wearing a rainbow T-shirt, died.

In his video post, Eric questioned the circumstances surrounding his brother’s death.

He said. “My name is Eric Wahl. I live in Seattle, Washington. I am Grant Wahl’s brother. I’m gay.

“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.”

In a post on Twitter, he added: “I spoke with Grant just the other day for his birthday. He thought he’d caught bronchitis. I no longer believe that’s what it was.

“We all want answers.”

A Qatar organising committee spokesperson said Grant “received immediate emergency medical treatment on site, which continued as he was transferred by ambulance to Hamad General Hospital”.

In a tweet, Wahl’s wife, Céline Gounder, said she was in “complete shock”, adding that she was “so thankful” for the support she had received from friends.

In a statement, the US Soccer Federation said it was “heartbroken” by Grant’s passing.

“Fans of soccer and journalism of the highest quality knew we could always count on Grant to deliver insightful and entertaining stories about our game, and its major protagonists,” the federation wrote on Twitter.

Grant celebrated his 48th birthday on Thursday with friends in Qatar, a day before he collapsed.

In the days before his death, he had been unwell, writing on his website on Monday that he had been unwell in the last 10 days and was on a course of antibiotics for suspected bronchitis.

“My body finally broke down on me,” he wrote.

“What had been a cold over the last 10 days turned into something more severe on the night of the USA-Netherlands game, and I could feel my upper chest take on a new level of pressure and discomfort.

“I didn’t have Covid (I test regularly here), but I went into the medical clinic and the main media center today, and they said I probably have bronchitis.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said Wahl’s love for football was “immense”, adding that his reporting would be “missed by all who follow the global game”, the BBC reported.

Tributes have poured in from several UK journalists.

Piers Morgan described Wahl as a “brilliant journalist”, while the Times’ Henry Winter said he was a “fine man” and “giant of the press box”.

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber tweeted: “We are shocked, saddened and heartbroken over the tragic passing of Grant Wahl. He was a kind and caring person whose passion for soccer and dedication to journalism were immeasurable.”

US tennis icon Billie Jean King also paid tribute to Grant.

A spokesperson for the Qatari body responsible for planning the World Cup, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, said: “We are deeply saddened by the death of the US journalist Grant Wahl.

“Grant was known for his enormous love of football and was in Qatar to cover his eighth Fifa World Cup.

“He fell ill in the Lusail Stadium media tribune, during last night’s quarter-final match between Argentina v Netherlands. He received immediate emergency medical treatment on site, which continued as he was transferred by ambulance to Hamad General Hospital.

“We are in touch with the US Embassy and relevant local authorities to ensure the process of repatriating the body is in accordance with the family’s wishes.”

Earlier this week, Grant was presented with an award by Brazilian football legend Ronaldo for reporting on eight consecutive World Cups – his first was in the US in 1994.

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