World Cup rocked by shocking death of second journalist in 48 hours

Khalid al-Misslam and Grant Wahl, pictured here at the World Cup in Qatar.
Khalid al-Misslam and Grant Wahl died at the World Cup in Qatar within 48 hours of each other. Image: Twitter/Getty

The FIFA World Cup has been rocked by the death of a second journalist in just 48 hours. The Gulf Times reported on Sunday that Qatari photojournalist Khalid al-Misslam had died “suddenly”.

“Al-Misslam, a Qatari, died suddenly while covering the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. We believe in Allah’s mercy and forgiveness for him, and send our deepest condolences to his family," the Qatari outlet reported.

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The circumstances surrounding Al-Misslam's death are unclear at this stage. He had been working for the Qatari news channel Al Kass TV and was covering the World Cup.

The devastating news comes just 48 hours after American journalist Grant Wahl also died at the World Cup in Qatar. Wahl had previously been detained for trying to wear a rainbow short to a match, with homosexuality outlawed in the country. He had also written a number of scathing articles about Qatar and FIFA's decision to host the World Cup in the Middle East for the first time ever.

The 48-year-old collapsed at Lusail Iconic Stadium during Argentina's clash with the Netherlands in the quarter-finals. He was rushed to a nearby hospital but died.

Wahl's brother Eric suggested foul play was involved. “My name is Eric Wahl. I live in Seattle, Washington. I am Grant Wahl’s brother. I’m gay,” he said in a video posted to social media.

“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.

“We’re still trying to find out. He collapsed at the stadium, was given CPR, was taken by Uber to hospital and died according to Celine. We just spoke with the state department and Celine has spoken to Ron Klain and the White House.”

Grant Wahl, pictured here working in the FIFA Media Centre at the World Cup.
Grant Wahl works in the FIFA Media Centre at the World Cup. (Photo by Doug Zimmerman/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Wahl had alluded to feeling unwell just days before his death. “My body I think told me, even after the US went out, ‘dude, you are not sleeping enough.’ It rebelled on me,” he said on a recent podcast episode.

“So I’ve had a case of bronchitis this week, I’ve been to the medical clinic at the media centre twice now, including today. I’m feeling better today I basically cancelled everything on this Thursday that I had and napped. And I’m doing slightly better. I think you can probably tell in my voice that I’m not 100 per cent.”

Flowers, pictured here after being placed in memory of Grant Wahl during Argentina's clash with Netherlands at the World Cup.
Flowers are placed in memory of Grant Wahl during Argentina's clash with Netherlands at the World Cup. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

World Cup rocked by shocking double tragedy

US Soccer said in a statement: “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.

“US soccer send its sincerest condolences to Grant’s wife, Dr. Celine Grounder, and all of his family members, friends and colleagues in the media. And we thank Grant for his tremendous dedication to and impact on out game in the United States. His writing and the stories he told will live on.”

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