Journalist

ONE more journalist covering the World Cup in his homeland died suddenly over the weekend, according to reports in the Middle East.

This comes as an editorial surprise as Qatar’s Khalid al-Misslam was a photojournalist working for Al Kass TV, a sports broadcaster in the Gulf state.

He is believed to have passed away on Saturday. 

Local outlet the Gulf Times briefly wrote on Twitter : “We believe in Allah’s mercy and forgiveness for him, and send our deepest condolences to his family.”

There was more tragedy on Saturday when leading American sports writer Grant Wahl died after collapsing during the quarter-final between Netherlands and Argentina. 

AFTER WAHL DEATH

The 48-year-old was said to have fallen back in his seat at Lusail Iconic Stadium and was attended by medical staff who performed CPR and used an automatic chest compressor before his death was announced following a reported heart attack.

Wahl was reporting on his eighth World Cup and said on Monday, nearly a week before his death, that he had visited a hospital in Qatar while feeling unwell. 

FIFA, in a rushing mood to quell the spread of death-speculations, said that all efforts possible were made to save Grant’s life.

A FIFA spokesperson said: ”In light of inaccurate reporting following the tragic events at Lusail Stadium during Netherlands against Argentina, FIFA would like to confirm that, in line with medical protocols, and as per the report from Hamad Medical Corporation’s Ambulance Service in Qatar, a defibrillator was available with the first responding paramedic team and applied to the patient as part of their response.

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“In addition, it was confirmed that the patient was transferred to hospital by an emergency ambulance.  Every effort was made by medical staff present to save his life. Our thoughts remain with the family of Grant Wahl.”

His brother, Eric, has made the accusation the journalist was allegedly killed because of his comments on the Qatari regime’s much-criticised stance on LGBT rights.

RAINBOW SHIRT

In a video posted on Instagram, which has now been deleted, Eric said: ‘My name is Eric Wahl. I live in Seattle, Washington. I am Grant Wahl’s brother. I’m gay. 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.”

He added that his brother’s body will be repatriated to the United States and said that his family would not release a cause of death until an autopsy has been performed in the US.

Now Khalid al-Misslam’s demise will have plenty of tongues wagging as the cause is still unclear.

“I must say it’s most unusual for two journalists to die, within hours of one another,” said Qatar reporter Salim Akhtar. “It’s more than coincidential but when it happens, it looks very disbelieving.”

* Suresh Nair is an award-winning sports journalist who is also a qualified international coach and international referee instructor.

Here are more stories related to the FIFA World Cup.

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