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First Grant Wahl, now Khalid al-Misslam: Conspiracy theories rock Qatar World Cup after death of journalists

A second journalist, Khalid al-Misslam, has died suddenly at the Qatar World Cup 2022 - 48 hours after a US reporter, Grant Wahl, who made headlines for wearing a rainbow shirt died from a 'heart attack'.

football First Grant Wahl, now Khalid al-Misslam: Conspiracy theories rock Qatar World Cup 2022 after sudden death of journalists snt
First Published Dec 12, 2022, 4:22 PM IST

At the Qatar World Cup 2022, a second journalist died abruptly, 48 hours after a US reporter who made headlines for donning an LGBT T-shirt passed away from a "heart attack." A photojournalist from Qatar named Khalid al-Misslam, who worked for Al Kass TV, passed away on Sunday. At this point, it's unknown what exactly caused his death.

Qatar news outlet Gulf Times tweeted: 'Al-Misslam, a Qatari, died suddenly while covering the FIFA World Cup 2022. "We believe in Allah's mercy and forgiveness for him, and send our deepest condolences to his family," they wrote.

Al Kass TV, which just briefly announced his departure in a live broadcast and seemed to be waiting on more information, confirmed the news. It happened barely 48 hours after American journalist Grant Wahl passed away. Wahl had trouble getting into stadiums because he was wearing a pro-LGBT top.

On Friday night in Doha, the renowned football journalist, 48, passed out during Argentina vs Netherlands game extra time. Paramedics gave him 20 minutes of CPR and an automatic chest compressor to revive him.

Also read: US journalist covering FIFA World Cup passes away days after brief detention in Qatar

According to reports, Grant Wahl experienced a heart attack and was taken to a local hospital by ambulance, where he was later declared dead. Erik Wahl, Wahl's gay brother, said his brother was murdered shortly after he passed away due to his persistent criticism of the Qatari government.

In a video posted on Instagram, which has now been deleted, Eric Wahl 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 continued by saying that his brother's remains would be flown back to the US on Monday and that his family would not disclose the reason for death until an autopsy was completed.

Grant Wahl had just returned from taking some time off of work because his body had "broken down" from lack of sleep, extreme stress, and a demanding workload. He had previously made headlines for being turned away from a game for donning a rainbow shirt. He was covering his ninth World Cup.

Also read: War of words erupts after US journalist Grant Wahl 'detained' at Qatar World Cup 2022 stadium over LGBTQ shirt

The World Cup in Qatar has come under fire for "sports washing" because of the host country's dismal record on human rights, particularly concerning how it treats the LGBTQ+ population.

The government of Qatar does not recognise same-sex marriages, and male homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment.

A Qatar organising committee spokesperson said Grant' received immediate emergency medical treatment on site, which continued as he was transferred by ambulance to Hamad General Hospital'. 

"We offer our deepest condolences to Grant's family, friends and his many close colleagues in the media," they added. 

FIFA said that all efforts possible were made to save Grant's life. "In light of inaccurate reporting following the tragic events at Lusail Stadium during the 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," a spokesperson said.

"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," the spokesperson added.

The death of two journalists in 48 hours in Qatar has sparked massive outrage on social media platforms, with some users dishing out numerous conspiracy theories. From a possible MERS outbreak to a bizarre claim of 'camel flu' has gripped netizens.

"Another journalist dies in Qatar: Khalid al-Misslam, a Qatari photojournalist for Al Kass TV. Once is a coincidence; twice is getting to be sus. Imagine what would be said if the IDF were around," noted one angry user on Twitter.

Another suspicious user noted, "Journalist Grant Wahl passed away while covering the World Cup in Qatar on Dec 10, 2022. Did he die of MERS-2, a deadly virus more lethal than SARS CoV 2. Photojournalist Khalid al-Misslam also passed away in Qatar on the same day as Wahl."

Also read: 'Homosexuality is haram': Qatar World Cup 2022 ambassador Khalid Salman's comments sparks boycott demands

"Vaxed? Qatari photographer Khalid al-Misslam is the second journalist to have died suddenly while covering the 2022 World Cup. On Friday, longtime US soccer journalist Grant Wahl died in Doha, Qatar, while covering the World Cup for CBS Sports. 'Suddenly'," stated a third curious user.

A fourth observer remarked, "Days after Grant Wahl died in Qatar, Qatari photojournalist Khalid al-Misslam died while covering the World Cup. I'm not conspiracy theorist, but..."

"The vaccine doing its job and do not forget that the one who recommends it is Lopez Doriga and all his informants," said another user on the micro-blogging site:

Here's a look at some other conspiracy theories and reactions from outraged and suspicious football enthusiasts:

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