- Three World Cup journalists passed away while covering the event out in Qatar
- ITV Sport technical director Roger Pearce, 65, first lost his life on November 21
- US reporter Grant Wahl then died at the age of 49 after collapsing in a stadium
- His death sparked controversy, with his brother claiming foul play was involved
- Wahl had been previously denied entry to a game for wearing a ‘pride’ t-shirt
- But Eric Wahl later wrote on Twitter that he now believes there was no foul play
- One day later, the death of Qatari photo-journalist Al-Misslami was announced
- FIFA have opened books of condolence for journalists to pay tribute to the trio
FIFA have given World Cup media members the chance to pay their respects to three journalists who died while covering the tournament by opening books of condolence at every stadium in Qatar.
Khalid al-Misslam, Roger Pearce and Grant Wahl all lost their lives after heading to Qatar to cover the winter showpiece, which got underway at the end of November, and FIFA Director of Media Relations Bryan Swanson revealed on social media that books are available at each stadium’s media centre for colleagues to write messages of condolence.
Along with a photo of three books dedicated to the late journalists, Swanson wrote: ‘We are opening books of condolence in the FIFA media centres at all remaining stadiums following the tragic deaths of Khalid al-Misslam, Roger Pearce and Grant Wahl during this tournament. Thoughts remain with their families and friends during this difficult time.’
FIFA have opened books of condolence to three World Cup journalists who died out in Qatar
FIFA’s Director of Media Relations Bryan Swanson took to Twitter to share details of the move, which allows the trio’s colleagues to pay their respects at each World Cup stadium
Pearce, ITV Sport’s technical director, passed away at the age of 65 on November 21 and his death was announced by presenter Mark Pougatch prior to Wales and USA’s opening group fixture.
‘Roger was a highly respected figure in the sports broadcasting industry, for ITV he was instrumental in the logistical planning and coverage of the Rugby World Cup, Football World Cup and European Championships.
‘He always had a smile on his face and left a smile on your face.’
Just under three weeks later a second World Cup media member was announced dead when Wahl, 49, fell back in his seat at the Lusail Stadium during extra time of Friday’s quarter-final between Argentina and Netherlands.
Roger Pearce, ITV Sport’s technical director, first passed away at the age of 65 on November 21
US reporter Grant Wahl died after collapsing during Argentina vs Netherlands on December 9
Wahl’s brother Eric initially claimed foul play was involved in the death of his brother, who had previously been refused entry to a game because he was wearing a rainbow ‘pride’ t-shirt
The American reporter had been complaining of respiratory problems earlier in the week, while also being treated for a possible case of bronchitis, and after being rushed to hospital he was declared dead soon after.
However, Wahl’s death initially sparked major controversy given he had previously been refused entry to Wales vs USA by stadium officials for wearing a rainbow ‘pride’ shirt to a game earlier in the tournament in violation of Qatar’s anti-gay laws.
Most of the world learned of Wahl’s passing through his brother Eric, who sensationally claimed that Grant was killed for wearing the rainbow t-shirt earlier in the tournament: ‘I do not believe my brother just died, I believe he was killed.’
But State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US had no reason to believe Wahl’s death was the result of foul play and instead praised Qatari authorities for fully cooperating with the embassy in arranging the repatriation.
Eric lateradmitted the Wahl family were eventually reassured that no foul play was involved
‘We have seen no indication of foul play or anything nefarious at this point,’ Price told reporters in Washington.
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.’
On Tuesday, Eric wrote on Twitter that he no longer believes foul play was involved in his brother’s death, saying: ‘The family will release a statement as to cause of death soon’.
One day later, Qatari photo-journalist Al-Misslami also died suddenly in his homeland
One day after Wahl’s death, Qatari photo-journalist Al-Misslami became the third media member at the World Cup to pass away, with the country’s English newspaper Gulf Times confirming the tragic news on Twitter.
The post 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.’
The circumstances surrounding Al-Misslami’s death remain unclear at this time.