Grant Wahl, a well-known American journalist, is away in Qatar after collapsing while covering the World Cup, sending shockwaves across the sports community. He was 49.
He “collapsed,” a witness told while covering the Argentina-Netherlands game on Friday.
Wahl “became sick” in the press area, where he received “urgent medical treatment on-site,” according to Qatar’s World Cup organizers on Saturday. According to a representative for the Supreme Court Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the organization in charge of organizing the competition, he was transported to Hamad General Hospital.
Keir Radnedge, a columnist for World Soccer Magazine, said on Saturday that he was treated in the stadium “for around 20 to 25 minutes” before being taken to the hospital.
This occurred at the end of the game’s extra period. Suddenly, coworkers on my left began crying for help from the medical staff. It was clear that someone had passed out. People could move the chairs since they were freestanding, which allowed for the creation of a small area around him, according to Radnedge.
The medical staff arrived “fairly promptly and were able to, as best they could administer care,” he continued.
It’s unclear what exactly happened to cause his death.
US Soccer released a statement on its official Twitter account, saying, “The entire US Soccer family is heartbroken to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl.”
“We are heartbroken that Grant, and his excellent writing, will no longer be with us. Grant made soccer his life’s work.”
US Soccer expressed their sympathies to Wahl’s wife, Celine Gounder, and other family members while praising Wahl’s drive and “conviction in the power of the game to improve human rights.”
The US Soccer message was also shared on Twitter by Gounder.
“I am extremely appreciative of the help from my husband Grant Wahl’s soccer family and all of the friends who have been in touch with me tonight. I’m in full amazement,” stated Gounder, a longtime CNN commentator and member of the Covid-19 advisory group for the Biden-Harris transition.
Ned Price, a spokesman for the US State Department, said the agency was in “close communication” with Wahl’s family. To “ensure the procedure of repatriating the body is by the family’s wishes,” the World Cup organizers added that they were in contact with the US embassy.
According to his website, Wahl had covered soccer for more than 20 years, including 11 World Cups (six for men and five for women), and had written several books about the game.
According to a tweet on his official Twitter account, he had just celebrated his birthday earlier this week with “a terrific bunch of media pals at the World Cup.” He added: “Very thankful for everyone.”
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He had expressed feeling unwell in a Futbol with Grant Wahl episode released just days before he passed away on December 6.
“The pressure, stiffness, and tightness in my chest had gotten awful. In the broadcast, Wahl told co-host Chris Wittyngham, “I’m feeling very hairy, awful. He said, “I thought I had bronchitis, so I went to the medical clinic in the World Cup media center.”
NEW: World Cup Daily, Day 25. They just don't care. Qatari World Cup organizers don't even hide their apathy over migrant worker deaths, including the most recent one.https://t.co/WEKoMdSm3J
— Subscribe to GrantWahl.com (@GrantWahl) December 8, 2022
He was given ibuprofen and cough medicine and claims to have felt better soon after.
According to Wahl, a “voluntary capitulation by my body and mind,” occurred following the US-Netherlands match on December 3.
This is not my first experience. At the time, he stated, “I’ve completed eight of these on the men’s side. I’ve been somewhat ill in every tournament, so it’s just trying to figure out how to finish your task.”
In a recent newsletter released on December 5, he went on to further detail the occurrence, claiming that his body had “broken down” due to lack of sleep, excessive levels of stress, and a demanding job. He claimed that after suffering from a cold for ten days, it “developed into something more severe” and that he felt better after taking medication and getting some rest.
I’m OK, but that was an unnecessary ordeal. Am in the media center, still wearing my shirt. Was detained for nearly half an hour. Go gays 🌈 https://t.co/S3INBoCz89
— Subscribe to GrantWahl.com (@GrantWahl) November 21, 2022
By claiming that he had been held and momentarily denied access to a World Cup game because he was sporting a rainbow t-shirt in support of LGBTQ rights, Wahl had made headlines in November.
He claimed that security personnel had grabbed his phone and instructed him to change his clothes because “it’s not authorized.” A FIFA spokesman and a senior member of the stadium security staff apologized to Wahl, who claimed he was freed 25 minutes after being arrested.
Wahl later admitted to CNN that he “probably will” wear the shirt again.
Gratitude pours in
The soccer and sports journalistic communities were shocked by Wahl’s passing, and many people paid respect to him online.
Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, said in a statement, “Only a few days ago, Grant was acknowledged by FIFA and AIPS (the International Sports Press Association) for his commitment to reporting on eight consecutive FIFA World Cups.”
Infantino and FIFA media director Bryan Swanson visited the hospital to provide the family, friends, and journalists who were also his housemates in Qatar with any help they might need.
In a joint statement, the co-editors in chief of Sports Illustrated, the outlet where Wahl worked for the bulk of his career, expressed their shock and devastation at the news of Grant’s passing.
We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Grant Wahl and send our condolences to his family, with whom we have been in close communication. We are engaged with senior Qatari officials to see to it that his family’s wishes are fulfilled as expeditiously as possible.
— Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) December 10, 2022
No writer in the history of (Sports Illustrated) has ever been more enthusiastic about the sport he loved and the stories he wanted to tell, the statement said. “We were pleased to call him a colleague and friend for two decades.”
It was noted that Wahl had started working for the magazine in November 1996. Before the sport reached worldwide prominence, he volunteered to cover it as a young reporter. He later rose to become “one of the most regarded soccer authorities in the world,” according to the report.
According to the statement, Wahl collaborated with Fox Sports and other media organizations. He started his podcast and newsletter in 2020 after quitting Sports Illustrated.
LeBron James, a basketball player, stated that he was “extremely fond of Grant” on Friday in Philadelphia. James was the subject of a Sports Illustrated cover article by Wahl while James was still in high school.
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In a post-game press conference, James remarked, “I’ve always watched from a distance, even when I moved up in ranks and became a professional, and he went to a different sport. “Whenever his name would be mentioned, I would always recall being a youngster and having Grant live in our building. It is a terrible loss.
Tennis legend Billie Jean King said the American’s death was “heartbreaking.”
“A gifted journalist, Grant was a vocal supporter of women’s soccer & the LGBTQ community,” King tweeted on Saturday. He elevated others whose tales needed to be told by using his platform—gratitude for his family.
Other current and past US soccer players, such as Tony Meola and Ali Krieger, as well as organizations like Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League, expressed their condolences.
I am so thankful for the support of my husband @GrantWahl's soccer family & of so many friends who've reached out tonight.
I'm in complete shock. https://t.co/OB3IzOxGlE
— Céline Gounder, MD, ScM, FIDSA 🇺🇦 (@celinegounder) December 10, 2022
On Saturday, co-host of Wahl’s podcast Wittyngham said that it had been challenging to comprehend the news of his passing.
Grant Wahl is the first soccer reporter you read if you’re an American. He essentially had the place to himself for a spell. Grant was the first individual to truly and meaningfully pay attention to this sport, according to Wittyngham.
Several journalists related their experiences working with Wahl and running into him at several World Cups.
Famous announcer Dick Vitale recalled, “Before he became the finest covering soccer, he played hoops and was very gracious to me.”
Wahl was described as “a highly recognized and greatly respected reporter who specialized on the beautiful game” by Timmy T. Davis, the US ambassador to Qatar, in a tweet.
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