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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

US journalist dies days after being detained for wearing a rainbow shirt in Qatar

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American journalist Grant Wahl has reportedly died while covering the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, according to a video posted by his brother Friday evening.

NPR confirmed Wahl’s death while covering the Netherlands-Argentina quarterfinal match in Doha and US Soccer confirmed the news in a statement.  

Wahl, who covered American and world soccer on his Substack, CBS Sports, NBC News and previously worked for Sports Illustrated, was ‘healthy’ before he collapsed during a game Friday, according to brother Eric in an Instagram video he posted.

Eric, who is gay, said through tears that he believes his brother – who had been detained before the United States’ tournament opener against Wales for wearing a rainbow flag shirt – may have been killed.

Wahl said: ‘I am the reason he wore the rainbow shirt to the world cup. I do not believe my brother just died, I believe he was killed’

He stated in the comments of the Instagram post that his brother’s wife – Dr. Celine Gounder, who worked on the Biden administration’s COVID-19 response team – has been in touch with White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain.

Grant Wahl’s last tweet came just hours earlier, when he described the tying goal the Netherlands had scored against Argentina in their World Cup quarterfinal match, which he was in attendance for. 

This is a developing story.

American journalist Grant Wahl has reportedly died while covering the 2022 World Cup in Qatar , according to a video posted by his brother Friday evening

Wahl, who covered American and world soccer on his Substack and previously worked for Sports Illustrated, was 'healthy' before he collapsed during a game Friday, according to brother Eric in an Instagram video he posted

Wahl, who covered American and world soccer on his Substack and previously worked for Sports Illustrated, was ‘healthy’ before he collapsed during a game Friday, according to brother Eric in an Instagram video he posted

Wahl was attending the USA’s first game of the tournament against Wales on Monday and wore a black t-shirt with a circle in the colors of the rainbow wrapping around a soccer ball, in support of the LGBTQ+ community.

He took to Twitter to claim that he was initially refused entry to the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan. He also revealed that shortly after sending out his first tweet, security staff ‘forcibly ripped his phone from his hands.’

Wahl’s account was met with widespread condemnation on social media.

Dr Nayef bin Nahar, a director of social sciences at Qatar University, had an alternative view.

Retweeting Wahl, he said: ‘As a Qatari I’m proud of what happened.

‘I don’t know when will the westerners realize that their values aren’t universal. There are other cultures with different values that should be equally respected. 

‘Let’s not forget that the West is not the spokesperson for humanity.’

American soccer reporter Wahl claimed he was refused entry to a World Cup stadium in Qatar for wearing a rainbow t-shirt ahead of the US's opener against Wales Monday

American soccer reporter Wahl claimed he was refused entry to a World Cup stadium in Qatar for wearing a rainbow t-shirt ahead of the US’s opener against Wales Monday

The USA kickstarts its campaign at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan at 2pm ET

The USA kickstarts its campaign at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan at 2pm ET

According to Qatar university’s website, Bin Naharis director of humanities and social sciences.

He apparently has seven books, one of which is called ‘Introduction to International Relations’. 

The World Cup in Qatar has faced criticism for ‘sportswashing’ due to the host nation’s poor human rights record, in particular the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. 

In Qatar, male homosexuality is punishable by a prison sentence and same-sex marriages are not recognized by the government. 

As recently as this month, a Qatar World Cup ambassador told a German TV broadcaster that homosexuality was ‘damage to the mind’, and it remains illegal to be gay in the conservative Muslim country. 

Wahl was attending his native USA’s first World Cup game against Wales, and wrote on social media: ‘Just now: Security guard refusing to let me into the stadium for USA-Wales. “You have to change your shirt. It’s not allowed.”’ 

Around 50 minutes later he posted again to reassure fans and social media users, revealing that he had been detained for almost half an hour. 

He added: ‘I’m OK, but that was an unnecessary ordeal. Am in the media center, still wearing my shirt. Was detained for nearly half an hour. Go gays.’

Wahl later revealed that he was finally granted entry to the media center after being detained for almost half an hour and reassured social media users that he was okay

Wahl later revealed that he was finally granted entry to the media center after being detained for almost half an hour and reassured social media users that he was okay 

A security guard reportedly told Wahl that his shirt was “political” and therefore not allowed, while another refused to return the phone.

Wahl revealed that Andrew Das, a New York Times reporter, walked past and was detained too after Wahl informed him what was happening. 

Das was eventually let go, while Wahl was questioned if he was from the UK to which he informed them he was from New York. 

A security commander eventually arrived on the scene and apologized to Wahl before letting him go. Wahl said that a FIFA official also apologized.  





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