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12th Dec 2022

Second journalist dies ‘suddenly’ while covering the Qatar World Cup

Steve Hopkins

The death comes after Grant Wahl collapsed and died on Friday

Another journalist has died “suddenly” while covering the World Cup in Qatar.

The Gulf Times revealed over the weekend that Al Kass TV photojournalist Khalid al-Misslam died in the country while reporting on the tournament. His death comes after American journalist Grant Wahl died on Friday night. 

The Gulf Times wrote on Instagram: “Al- Misslam, a Qatari, died suddenly while covering the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

“We believe in Allah’s mercy and forgiveness for him, and send our deepest condolences to his family. We are all Allah’s and to Him we return.”

The circumstances surrounding al-Misslam’s death remain unknown.

7News reported that the Al Kass network briefly mentioned Khalid’s death during a broadcast but didn’t elaborate on the situation.

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

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

A Qatar organising committee spokesperson said Wahl “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 Wahl’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.

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

In the days before his death, Wahl 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.

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.”

Last week, Wahl 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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