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US journalist Grant Wahl dies days after brief detention in Qatar over rainbow shirt

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It remains unclear whether Grant died in hospital or during transport.

New Delhi:

US journalist Grant Wahl, detained in Qatar for wearing a rainbow shirt in support of the LGBTQ community, has died while covering the FIFA World Cup, his brother announced today.

Grant, 48, collapsed while covering the quarter-final match between Argentina and the Netherlands at the Lusail Iconic Stadium on Friday.

Grant’s brother Eric has alleged that the Qatari government may have been involved in the former Sports Illustrated journalist’s death.

“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 Instagram. “I’m the reason why he wore the rainbow jersey at the World Cup. My brother was healthy. He told me he had received death threats. I don’t believe that my brother just died. I believe he was killed. help.”

At the start of the World Cup, Grant said World Cup security denied him entry to the United States opener against Wales at Al Rayyan’s Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium and he asked to take off his rainbow jersey. He said his phone was taken away when he tweeted about the incident.

He said an on-site security official later approached him to apologize and allowed him into the stadium. He also received an apology from a FIFA representative, he said.

It remains unclear whether Grant died in hospital or during transport.

“We’re still trying to find out,” Eric said. “He collapsed at the stadium, received cardiac massage, was taken by Uber to the hospital and died according to Celine. We just spoke with the State Department and Celine spoke to Ron Klain and the White House.”

Earlier this week, Grant said in his newsletter that he had visited a clinic in the media center in Qatar for a checkup. The doctors there said, “I probably have bronchitis.”

“My body finally collapsed on top of me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and a lot of work can do this to you…I could feel my upper chest taking on a new level of pressure and discomfort β€œ, wrote Grant in his newsletter.

He said he “felt a little better a few hours later. But still: No bueno.”

According to rights groups, concerns have been raised about the rights of fans attending the event, especially LGBT+ people and women, who face discrimination from the Qatari government.

The US soccer body said in a statement that it was “heartbroken” to learn of Grant’s death, adding that he will remain “an inspiration to all”.

“The entire American football family is heartbroken to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl,” said the USA Soccer Federation. “Here in the United States, Grant’s passion for the game of football and his commitment to raising his profile in our sporting landscape have played a major role in helping to generate interest and respect for our beautiful game. Equally important, the Grant’s belief in the power of play to advance human rights has been and will remain an inspiration to all.”

Grant’s wife, Celine Gounder, an epidemiologist and infectious disease expert, expressed her shock on social media.

“I’m so grateful for the support of my husband’s football family @GrantWahl and so many friends who reached out to me tonight. I’m completely in shock,” she wrote on Twitter.

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