Grant Wahl’s brother says he ‘no longer suspects foul play’ in soccer reporter’s death

Grant Wahl’s brother says he no longer believes the American soccer writer died from foul play while covering the ongoing World Cup in Qatar. Eric Wahl previously claimed on social media that Grant was ‘killed’ for wearing a rainbow ‘pride’ shirt to a game earlier in the tournament in violation of Qatar’s anti-gay laws.

‘The family will release a statement as to cause of death soon,’ Eric Wahl wrote on Twitter. ‘I no longer suspect foul play. It was not a (pulmonary embolism).’

Wahl, who had complained of respiratory problems earlier in the week and had been treated for a possible case of bronchitis, fell back in his seat in a section of Lusail Stadium reserved for journalists during extra time of Friday’s game. Adjacent reporters called for assistance and the 49-year-old was rushed to the hospital, but was declared dead soon after.

The brother of Grant Wahl, the American soccer journalist who died while covering the ongoing World Cup in Qatar, no longer believes his sibling died of foul play

The brother of Grant Wahl, the American soccer journalist who died while covering the ongoing World Cup in Qatar, no longer believes his sibling died of foul play

The brother of Grant Wahl (pictured), the American soccer journalist who died while covering the ongoing World Cup in Qatar, no longer believes his sibling died of foul play

The brother of Grant Wahl (pictured), the American soccer journalist who died while covering the ongoing World Cup in Qatar, no longer believes his sibling died of foul play

Much of the world learned of Wahl’s passing from his brother Eric, who claimed that Grant was killed for wearing a rainbow ‘pride’ t-shirt earlier in the tournament: ‘I do not believe my brother just died, I believe he was killed. ‘

Wahl’s body and possessions were repatriated to the United States on Monday, according to the State Department.

The department said Wahl’s remains and his belongings arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport around 8:30am. ET. They were accompanied by a consular official from the US Embassy in Doha who had had custody of Wahl’s remains since shortly after he collapsed during Friday’s match between Argentina and the Netherlands and later died.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US had no reason to believe Wahl’s death was the result of foul play and praised Qatari authorities for fully cooperating with the embassy in arranging the repatriation.

‘We have seen no indication of foul play or anything nefarious at this point,’ Price told reporters in Washington.

Emergency services workers treated Wahl for 20 or 30 minutes on site and then took him out on a stretcher. The World Cup organizing committee said he was taken to Doha’s Hamad General Hospital, but it did not state a cause of death.

Reports have claimed that there were no defibrillators available in the stadium, but FIFA pushed back on that claim in a statement on Tuesday.

‘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 Medial 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,’ read FIFA’s statement.

‘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.’

Wahl, who had complained of respiratory problems earlier in the week and had been treated for a possible case of bronchitis, fell back in his seat in a section of Lusail Stadium reserved for journalists during extra time of Friday's game.  Adjacent reporters called for assistance and the 49-year-old was rushed to the hospital, but was declared deceased soon after

Wahl, who had complained of respiratory problems earlier in the week and had been treated for a possible case of bronchitis, fell back in his seat in a section of Lusail Stadium reserved for journalists during extra time of Friday’s game. Adjacent reporters called for assistance and the 49-year-old was rushed to the hospital, but was declared deceased soon after

American soccer reporter Grant 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

American soccer reporter Grant 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

Wahl wrote for Sports Illustrated for more than two decades and then started his own website. He was a major voice informing an American public of soccer during a time of increased interest after the United States hosted the 1994 World Cup.

He also brought a critical eye to the international organizing bodies of the sport, such as FIFA and World Cup host countries, like Russia and Qatar.

It was in Qatar, where Wahl upset the host country by wearing a rainbow ‘pride’ t-shirt before a game on November 21. Later he said he was detained for around 20 minutes as officials demanded that he change his shirt.

Ultimately he was allowed in and tweeted: ‘I’m OK, but that was an unnecessary order. Am in the media center, still wearing my shirt. Was detained for nearly half an hour. Go gays.’

Following his death on Friday, Eric Wahl, who is gay, said on Instagram that Grant wore the t-shirt to support his brother.

‘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.’

Following his death on Friday, Eric Wahl, who is gay, said on Instagram that Grant wore the t-shirt to support his brother

Following his death on Friday, Eric Wahl, who is gay, said on Instagram that Grant wore the t-shirt to support his brother

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 smatch, which he was attending.

Wahl wrote last week that he had been among 82 journalists honored by FIFA and the international sports press association AIPS for attending eight or more World Cups.

A statement from FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Saturday morning said: ‘It is with disbelief and immense sadness that I have been made aware of the passing of renowned sports journalist Grant Wahl.

‘Only some days ago, Grant was recognized by FIFA and AIPS for his contribution to reporting on eight consecutive FIFA World Cups, and his career also included attendance at several FIFA Women’s World Cups, as well as a host of other international sporting events. His love for football was immense and his reporting will be missed by all who follow the global game.’

Grant Wahl receiving an award on December 5

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James shared his grief with reporters in Philadelphia on Friday, roughly 20 years after Wahl introduced the world to a 17-year-old high school player from Akron in the pages of Sports Illustrated

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James shared his grief with reporters in Philadelphia on Friday, roughly 20 years after Wahl introduced the world to a 17-year-old high school player from Akron in the pages of Sports Illustrated

In the days since, there has been an outpouring of grief soccer fans, players, and even LeBron James.

James shared his grief with reporters in Philadelphia on Friday, roughly 20 years after Wahl introduced the world to a 17-year-old high school player from Akron in the pages of Sports Illustrated.

‘I’m very fond of Grant and having that cover shoot – me being a teenager and him covering that, it was a pretty cool thing,’ said James, who was only a high school junior at the time, but would be drafted with the first pick of the NBA Draft 16 months after appearing on the SI cover.

‘And he was always pretty cool to be around,’ James continued, as quoted by ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. ‘He spent a lot of time in my hometown of Akron covering me over the course of time before that cover story came out. And I’ve always kind of watched from a distance.

‘Even when I moved up in the ranks and became a professional and he kind of went to a different sport and things of that nature of the years, anytime his name would come up I would I would always think back to me as a teenager and having Grant in our building down at St. V. So it’s a tragic loss,’ James said, speaking after the Lakers’ 133-122 loss to the 76ers in Philadelphia.

‘It’s unfortunate to lose someone as great as he was and I wish his family, like I said, the best. And may he rest in paradise.’

James celebrated the life and memory of Wahl once more on Saturday afternoon, responding to a tweet of ‘The Chosen One’ SI cover.

‘You had a huge impact on me and my family and I’m so appreciative of you,’ James wrote. ‘A great person and journalist. Rest In Paradise Grant Election.’

FIFA Media Director Bryan Swanson is also compiling a book of memories about Wahl as well as two other journalists – Khalid al-Misslam, Roger Pearce – who also passed away during the tournament.

‘We are opening books of condolence in the FIFA media centers at all remaining stadiums following the tragic deaths of Khalid al-Misslam, Roger Pearce and Grant Wahl during this tournament,’ he wrote on Twitter. ‘Thoughts remain with their families and friends during this difficult time.’

FIFA Media Director Bryan Swanson is also compiling a book of memories about Wahl from reporters in Qatar

FIFA Media Director Bryan Swanson is also compiling a book of memories about Wahl from reporters in Qatar

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