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.
Our U.S. Soccer Foundation team is devastated to learn of the passing of longtime friend Grant Wahl. Full statement: pic.twitter.com/WsRjwKc5ey
— US Soccer Foundation (@ussoccerfndn) December 10, 2022
This is heartbreaking for me for so many reasons. Grant Wahl and soccer are inextricably linked. I have looked to Grant and his work for decades. The soccer story here in the US has Grant’s name all over it. We will miss you Grant and we can’t stop thinking about your family. https://t.co/Hv56lLgzxP
— Abby Wambach (@AbbyWambach) December 10, 2022
Being an ally is the talk. Being an accomplice is the walk. From championing women’s soccer to amplifying LGBTQ+ rights, #GrantWahl walked the walk as an accomplice in the fight for justice.
— Renée Graham ?️? (@reneeygraham) December 10, 2022
What Grant Wahl taught us is one doesn’t have to be gay to support gay rights, one doesn’t have to be a person of color to be an ally to people of color, one doesn’t have to be female to be an advocate of women’s rights & so on. RIP Grant Wahl. #LGBTQ pic.twitter.com/BOKdZVhZ1M
— ☆ Steve Levine ☆ (@SteveLevine1) December 10, 2022
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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