American soccer sportswriter Grant Wahl has died in Doha, Qatar while covering the World Cup quarterfinal game between the Netherlands and Argentina, according to NPR.
As the match was winding down, an NPR reporter witnessed a commotion in the press tribune at Lusail Stadium. Reporters scattered as Wahl collapsed. Paramedics responded to the seating area where he was and performed CPR. After many minutes, they took him away on a stretcher while using an automatic chest compressor to continue applying CPR.
Wahl’s wife and brother both confirmed his death to NPR. He was 48.
Wahl, whose brother is openly gay, wore a rainbow soccer ball shirt to the stadium in Qatar for the USA-Wales game on November 21. He was initially refused entry, but after sending this tweet and being detained for more than 25 minutes he was allowed through, with the guards saying they were just trying to protect him from fans in the stadium who might take issue with the shirt.
Just now: Security guard refusing to let me into the stadium for USA-Wales. “You have to change your shirt. It’s not allowed.” pic.twitter.com/TvSGThMYq8
— Subscribe to GrantWahl.com (@GrantWahl) November 21, 2022
Wahl turned 48 just two days ago.
Celebrated my birthday tonight with a great group of media friends at the World Cup. No games today, but very thankful for everyone ❤️
— Subscribe to GrantWahl.com (@GrantWahl) December 7, 2022
His last tweet was at 4:05 PM Eastern on Friday afternoon, in which he wrote: “Just an incredible designed set-piece goal by the Netherlands.”
Wahl’s brother Eric posted an emotional video on Instagram saying that he believes that Grant was killed because of the rainbow shirt incident.
Grant Wahl detailed what happened that day on his Substack, saying that FIFA had informed everyone that the rainbow flag would be welcomed at the World Cup:
Same-sex relationships are illegal in Qatar. But FIFA has been clear in saying that the rainbow flag would be welcomed at the World Cup. The Qatari regime, however, has said very little on the topic, raising concerns that things would be different on the ground.
A moment after tweeting… one guard forcibly ripped my phone from my hands.
Nearly half an hour passed. One security guard told me that my shirt was “political” and not allowed. Another continually refused to give me back my phone. Another guard yelled at me as he stood above me—I was sitting on a chair by now—that I had to remove my shirt.
I told him no.
“You can make this easy. Take off your shirt,” one said.
I told him no, adding that my shirt wasn’t political at all.
[A security commander] said they were letting me through and apologized. We shook hands.
One of the security guards told me they were just trying to protect me from fans inside who could harm me for wearing the shirt.
He also openly criticized the Qatari regime over their reaction to the death of a Filipino migrant who was killed in a construction accident at Saudi Arabia’s training camp. That article was published December 8.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber was one of many posting tributes to Wahl on Twitter.
We are shocked, saddened and heartbroken over the tragic passing of Grant Wahl. He was a kind and caring person whose passion for soccer and dedication to journalism were immeasurable. pic.twitter.com/ohJoZlGfk0
— Don Garber (@thesoccerdon) December 10, 2022
We will publish further information about what led to Wahl’s death as it is made available.
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