Second journalist dies suddenly covering FIFA World Cup in Qatar

The unexpected death of American soccer journalist Grant Wahl has raised varied concerns surrounding the cause, all of which were only heightened the following day with the passing of another individual covering the FIFA World Cup.

After making headlines over an alleged altercation with security for trying to enter the stadium in Doha, Qatar wearing a t-shirt with a rainbow on it, the 48-year-old was in the news again when he tragically died Friday after experiencing a medical emergency during coverage of the Argentina vs. Netherlands match. With questions still unanswered as to Wahl’s actual cause of death, multiple outlets have confirmed Qatari photojournalist Khalid al-Misslam also passed over the weekend with a cause of death yet to be announced.

On Saturday, the Gulf Times took to social media to release a statement that read, “Al Kass TV photojournalist Khalid al-Misslam passed away recently. 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.”

As covered, the political climate in Qatar added to the speculation surrounding Wahl’s death as a day prior he had added further criticism of tournament organizers for how they had treated migrant laborers from foreign nations including Bangladesh, Pakistan and India.

Additionally, Wahl’s openly gay brother Eric posted his own theory to social media and said in part, “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.”

Meanwhile, the Qatari government had issue a statement joining in mourners that read, “We are deeply saddened by the death of the U.S. journalist Granth Wahl. Grant was known for his enormous love of football and was in Qatar to cover his eighth FIFA World Cup.”

However, Wahl’s health may not have been as up to snuff as suggested as he himself had recently visited the medical clinic twice and reported experiencing bronchitis a day before his death. The journalist had explained that many of his peers had also been sick with coughs since the beginning of the soccer tournament.

“I’m coughing a lot. Everyone is coughing her,” he said. “This is by no means limited to me. So many journalists have gotten a crazy cough that sounds like a death rattle sometimes.”

Further driving the mystery, Wahl and al-Misslam were not the only individuals covering the World Cup who have died since the tournament began. On the Monday before Thanksgiving, it was announced on air that ITV technical director Roger Pearce had died in Qatar while on assignment for the tournament five weeks before he was set to retire.

It remains unknown how many other attendees, if any, may have “died suddenly,” but many have seen fit to point out that Wahl’s wife, Dr. Céline Gounder, was a member of then-incoming President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board transition team and he himself boasted of his continued receipt of vaccine boosters.

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