LGBTQ+ ally one of two journalists to die suddenly at Qatar World Cup

US sports journalist Grant Wahl collapsed during the Argentina and Netherlands match on Friday, and fans are admiring his dedication to supporting LGBTQ+ rights.

White flowers sit in front of photograph of US sports journalist Grant Wahl who died while covering the World Cup in Qatar.
Image: Twitter @Meg_Swanick

Two journalists have died suddenly while covering the Qatar World Cup. One of which is well-known American sports reporter and LGBTQ+ ally, Grant Wahl, who passed away unexpectedly while covering the Argentina-Netherlands match on Friday, December 9.

Wahl had reported having a cold that escalated into bronchitis in recent days. He had attributed his sickness to only being able to get small amounts of sleep while managing a high stress workload. He visited a medical centre and was being treated with antibiotics and cough syrup and said he felt like his symptoms were improving on Monday. Reports say that he collapsed suddenly in the press area during Friday’s match. He received treatment in the stadium before being transported to Hamad General Hospital.

Grant Wahl was a human rights advocate and LGBTQ+ ally who passionately stood up for the queer community. He spoke out against Qatar’s human rights violations, including the criminalisation of homosexuality in the state, and he was refused entry into a World Cup stadium and briefly detained on November 21 for wearing a rainbow shirt to the United States vs Wales match.

Grant was concerned for anyone whose rights were being violated. In an emotional Instagram post, his brother, Eric, who is gay, shared that he had worn the shirt as a sign of support for him and in solidarity with all members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Since Wahl died on Friday, a tribute table was set up in the press box where he was working at Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar. The journalist has received an outpouring of love and grief from family, friends, and fans who admired both his passion for his career and his dedication to advancing human rights.

Several people, including prominent LGBTQ+ athletes, have referenced Wahl’s allyship and unending support for human rights.

The second of the two journalists to die while covering the Qatar World Cup is Khalid al-Misslam, who passed away on Saturday, December 10. The circumstances around the photojournalist’s death are still unclear, but Al Kass TV confirmed his death during a live news broadcast and sent their deepest condolences to his family.

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