Grant Wahl, one of the United States’ best-known football writers, died early Saturday while covering the World Cup match between Argentina and the Netherlands in Qatar. He was 48.
US media sitting near him said Wahl fell back to his seat in the press box at Lusail Iconic Stadium during extra time, and reporters next to him called for help. The emergency services staff responded very quickly, the reporters said, and they were later told Wahl had died.
“He received immediate emergency medical treatment at the scene, which continued when he was transferred to Hamad General Hospital by ambulance,” the World Cup organizing committee said in a statement, which did not give a cause of death. “We are in contact with the US Embassy and relevant local authorities to ensure the process of repatriating the body is in accordance with the family’s wishes.”
Wahl reported on his eighth world championship. He wrote on his website on Monday that he had visited a medical clinic in Qatar.
“My body finally collapsed on me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and a lot of work can do that to you,” Wahl wrote. “What had been a cold for the past 10 days turned into something heavier on the night of the USA-Netherlands game and I could feel my upper chest taking on a new level of pressure and discomfort.
“I didn’t have Covid (I test here regularly) but I went to the medical clinic in the main media center today and they said I probably have bronchitis. They put me on a course of antibiotics and some strong cough syrup and a few hours later I’m feeling a little better. But still: No bueno.”
On his podcast on Thursday, Wahl said he had a case of bronchitis and revisited the medical clinic.
“I basically canceled everything I had and took a nap this Thursday and I’m feeling a little better that you can probably tell from my voice that I’m not 100 per cent on here,” he said. “Hopefully I won’t be coughing during this podcast. I cough a lot. Everyone coughs like that here, is by no means limited to me, as so many journalists have a crazy cough. It sometimes sounds like a death rattle.
“The only thing that really surprises me is that there is not that much COVID here. I thought there might be a real problem with it. We don’t really see COVID cases. We just see a lot of common illnesses, coughs, colds and I can’t wait to be on the other side of what I have. But I’ll be ready to go. I will attend on Friday.
During the World Cup, Wahl drew international attention after he said he was briefly banned from attending the US game against Wales on November 21 for wearing a rainbow-colored T-shirt to support those who identify as LGBTQIA+ identify as their rights are criminalized in Qatar, a conservative Muslim nation.
Wahl wrote that he was held at Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan for 25 minutes and then released by a security commander. Wahl said FIFA apologized to him.
Wahl, who graduated from Princeton in 1996, worked for Sports Illustrated from 1996 to 2021, best known for its football and college basketball coverage. He then launched his own website. Wahl also worked for Fox Sports from 2012 to 2019.
He leaves behind his wife Dr. Celine Gounder, clinical associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine, attending physician at Bellevue Hospital Center and medical news anchor for CBS News.
go under tweeted on Friday night that she was “completely shocked” and thanked everyone for the support of her husband.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a tweet that the US is “working with senior Qatari officials to ensure his family’s wishes are fulfilled as soon as possible.”
Sports Illustrated published a statement from editors Ryan Hunt and Stephen Cannella saying they were “shocked and devastated by the news of Grant’s death.”
“We were proud to call him a colleague and friend for two decades – no writer in the history of SI has been so passionate about the sport he loved and the stories he wanted to tell,” says in the explanation. “Our hearts go out to Celine and his family, and to everyone who loved his work. He will always be part of the SI family.”
Wahl’s work at Sports Illustrated included the famous cover story “The Chosen One” about LeBron James in 2002 when James was a junior at St. Vincent-St. Mary High in Akron, Ohio.
“He was always pretty cool to be with. He’s spent a lot of time in my hometown of Akron,” James said in Philadelphia after the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the 76ers in overtime. “Every time his name comes up, I will always think back to me as a teenager having Grant in our building down in St. V’s. It’s a tragic loss. It’s unfortunate to lose someone as great as he is. I wish him family the best. May he rest in paradise.”
US soccer too released a statement Friday night and said they were “heartbroken” to learn of Wahl’s death.
Statement by US Soccer on Grant Wahl’s Death: pic.twitter.com/CBp1mCK1mQ
— US Soccer (@ussoccer) December 10, 2022
Wahl was a sporadic voter at FIFA’s annual awards and was among 82 journalists recognized by FIFA and the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) for attending eight or more World Cups.
“Just a few days ago, Grant was recognized by FIFA and AIPS for his contribution to the coverage of eight consecutive FIFA World Cups, and his career has also included appearances at several FIFA Women’s World Cups, as well as a host of other international sporting events.” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “His love of football was immense and his coverage will be missed by all who follow global football.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
https://www.espn.com/espn/story/_/id/35221443/american-soccer-journalist-grant-wahl-dies-48-qatar American soccer journalist Grant Wahl dies at 48 in Qatar