Influential American football journalist Grant Wahl died in Qatar while covering the World Cup, his brother announced. He was 48.
While covering Argentina’s quarter-final victory over the Netherlands on Friday, Wahl, who had been running his own Substack after working for Sports Illustrated, collapsed at the Lusail Iconic Stadium and was rushed to a nearby hospital . It is unclear whether he died in hospital or in transit.
His brother, Eric, believes foul play by the Qatari government may have been involved.
“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 his Instagram account. “I’m the reason he wore the rainbow shirt to the World Cup. My brother was healthy. He told me he had been threatened with death. I don’t believe my brother just died. I believe he was murdered. And I beg for help.”
Ahead of the USMNT’s World Cup match against Wales, Wahl was initially barred from entering the Ahmad bin Ali stadium and detained for 30 minutes for wearing a shirt featuring a soccer ball surrounded by a rainbow. Finally he was let into the stadium.
The government of Qatar cracked down on pro-LGBTQ demonstrations during the tournament, despite their original promises not to. In addition to his rainbow-themed shirt, Wahl has been an outspoken critic of Qatar’s government and the organization of the World Cup. On Thursday he wrote: “They just don’t care. The Qatar World Cup organizers are not even hiding their apathy for the deaths of migrant workers, including the most recent,” in an article on his Substack.
“We’re still trying to figure it out,” Eric continued. “He collapsed in the stadium, was given CPR, was taken to 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.”
Just a day earlier, Wahl revealed he was dealing with bronchitis while feeling bad.
“I think my body was telling me, even after the US went out, ‘Dude, you’re not sleeping enough.’ It rebelled against me, ‘Wahl said on his podcastst “Futbol with Grant Wahl” on Thursday. “So I had a case of bronchitis this week, I’ve been to the medical clinic at the media center twice now, including today. I feel better today. I actually canceled everything on this Thursday and took a nap. And I’m doing a little better. I think you can probably tell by my voice that I’m not 100 percent.