Qatar World Cup murder fears as US journalist collapses and dies after wearing rainbow top

A football journalist from the US has died while covering the World Cup in Qatar. Grant Wahl, 48, collapsed during the Argentina-Netherlands game last night.

Reports suggest Mr Wahl, a former Sports Illustrated journalist who later moved to Substack, suffered “acute distress” but this has not yet been officially confirmed.

Mr Wahl was briefly detained by Qatari authorities last month for trying to enter a stadium wearing a rainbow shirt in support of the LGBT community. Same-sex relations are illegal in Qatar.

His brother said in a video on Instagram that he believes he may have been killed.

Eric Wahl said: “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.”

On Thursday Mr Wahl said he had visited hospital in Qatar and was thought to have bronchitis.

In an episode of his podcast Futbol with Grant Wahl, he said: “My body finally broke down on me – three weeks of little sleep, high stress and lots of work can do that to you.

“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 at the main media centre today, and they said I probably have bronchitis.

“They gave me a course of antibiotics and some heavy-duty cough syrup, and I’m already feeling a bit better just a few hours later. But still: No bueno.”

His wife Dr Céline Gounder thanked those who had contacted her.

She tweeted last night: “I am so thankful for the support of my husband Grant Wahl’s soccer family and of so many friends who’ve reached out tonight. I’m in complete shock.”

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said late on Friday: “We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Grant Wahl and send our condolences to his family, with whom we have been in close communication.

“We are engaged with senior Qatari officials to see to it that his family’s wishes are fulfilled as expeditiously as possible.”

In a statement, the US Soccer Federation said it was “heartbroken” by the news.

It said: “The entire US soccer family is heartbroken to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl.

“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: teams, players, coaches and the many personalities that make soccer unlike any sport.

“Here in the United States, Grant’s passion for soccer and commitment to elevating its profile across our sporting landscape played a major role in helping to drive interest in, and respect for, our beautiful game.

“As important, Grant’s belief in the power of the game to advance human rights was, and will remain, an inspiration to all.

“Grant made soccer his life’s work, and we are devastated that he and his brilliant writing will no longer be with us.”