Journalist’s brother ‘regrets’ World Cup murder claims

The brother of the football journalist who died while covering the World Cup in Qatar says the family no longer suspects foul play caused his death.

The body of Grant Wahl has arrived back in the United States, with government officials praising Qatari authorities for their co-operation.

Wahl made worldwide news earlier in the World Cup, when he was denied entry to a match for wearing a rainbow shirt in support of the LGBTQ community.

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Immediately after Wahl’s death, his brother Eric said he believed Grant had been murdered.

“I do not believe my brother just died. I believe he was killed,” Eric said.

But in a social media post on Wednesday morning, Eric backed away from those claims.

“The family will release a statement as to cause of death soon. I no longer suspect foul play. It was not PE (pulmonary embolism).”

The latter is a reference to a post on Tuesday where Eric suggests a pulmonary embolism may have been the cause of Grant’s death.

Eric Wahl told the New York Post he “regrets” making the claim that his brother had been murdered.

“I was in shock, and I just had limited information to go on,” he said.

“I’m especially sorry to any people in the Muslim world that I offended. It was never my intention.”

Meanwhile, Associated Press reports that 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.

Wahl, an American journalist who helped grow the popularity of football in the United States and reported on some of the biggest stories in the sport, was 49.

Tributes to Wahl have poured in since his death, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken adding his voice to the chorus of appreciation.

“I so appreciated Grant Wahl, whose writing captured not only the essence of the beautiful game but also the world around it,” Blinken wrote on Twitter.

“I send my deepest condolences to his family, and thank our embassy team and Qatari partners who worked together so effectively to fulfill their wishes.”

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 the game, and reporters adjacent to him called for assistance.

Emergency services workers responded very quickly, treated him 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.

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 football 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.

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