(Daily Mail) American journalist Grant Wahl has died while covering the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. He was 48 years old.
Wahl, who covered American and world soccer on his Substack, CBS Sports, NBC News and previously worked for Sports Illustrated, was ‘healthy’ before he collapsed during a game Friday, according to brother Eric in an Instagram video he posted.
His agent, Tim Scanlan, told the New York Times that Wahl had gone into acute distress in the final minutes of a quarterfinal match, which he was covering from the press tribune.
US media seated near him said Wahl fell back in his seat in the media tribune at Lusail Iconic Stadium during extra time and reporters adjacent to him called for assistance. Emergency services workers responded very quickly, the reporters said, and his colleagues were later told that he had died.
Rafael Cores, a journalist for Univision who was sitting next to Wahl at the match, wrote: ‘He was working on his story on his laptop, it was about 4 minutes before the end of the extra time. He was laughing at a joke we saw on Twitter only minutes earlier. I can’t believe it. My deepest condolences to Grant Wahl’s family.’
His brother Eric, who is gay, said through tears that he believes his brother – who had been detained before the United States’ tournament opener against Wales for wearing a rainbow flag shirt – may have been killed.
Wahl’s brother said: ‘I am the reason he wore the rainbow shirt to the world cup. I do not believe my brother just died, I believe he was killed.’
American journalist Grant Wahl has died while covering the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Wahl was a respected sports journalist who was noted for his dedication to elevating soccer in the US
He said on the podcast: ‘My body finally broke down on me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and lots of work can do that to you. What had been a cold over the last 10 days turned into something more severe on the night of the USA-Netherlands game, and I could feel my upper chest take on a new level of pressure and discomfort.’
Wahl wrote that he tested negative for COVID-19 and sought treatment for his symptoms.
‘I went into the medical clinic at the main media center today, and they said I probably have bronchitis. They gave me a course of antibiotics and some heavy-duty cough syrup, and I’m already feeling a bit better just a few hours later. But still: No bueno,’ he wrote.
A 1996 graduate of Princeton, Wahl worked for Sports Illustrated from 1996 to 2021, known primarily for his coverage of soccer and college basketball. He wrote a profile of Lebron James when the NBA superstar was in high school that is credited with introducing the world to the then 17-year-old player from Ohio.
James would be drafted with the first pick of the NBA Draft about a year after appearing in the piece.
‘Even when I moved up in the ranks and became a professional and he kind of went to a different sport and things of that nature of the years, anytime his name would come up I would always think back to me as a teenager and having Grant in our building down at St. V. So it’s a tragic loss,’ James said, speaking Friday.
‘It’s unfortunate to lose someone as great as he was.’
Wahl went on to cover professional soccer and has been lauded for his tireless work to elevate the sport in the United States.
He eventually launched his own website, and also worked for Fox Sports for seven years, from 2012-19.
Wahl’s wife, former Biden White House COVID advisor Dr. Celine Gounder, tweeted Friday night: ‘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.’
Grant Wahl and wife Dr. Celine Gounder in a photo from his Instagram dated 2020. The couple lived in New York City with their two dogs
Wahl was attending the USA’s first game of the tournament against Wales on Monday and wore a black t-shirt with a circle in the colors of the rainbow wrapping around a soccer ball, in support of the LGBTQ + community
Wahl’s brother Eric stated in the comments of the Instagram post that his brother’s wife – Dr. Celine Gounder, who worked on the Biden administration’s COVID-19 response team – has been in touch with White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain.
A U.S. State Department spokesman told DailyMail.com: ‘We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Grant Wahl, and we send our condolences to his family, with whom we have been in close communication. We are engaged with senior Qatari officials to see that his family’s wishes for his remains are fulfilled as expeditiously as possible.’
‘When a U.S. citizen dies abroad, the Department provides all appropriate consular assistance to the family and friends. Our consular staff at the U.S. embassy in Qatar are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide consular assistance to U.S. citizens during the World Cup.’
‘We are engaged with senior Qatari officials to see to it that his family’s wishes are fulfilled as expeditiously as possible,’ said Price.
Gounder tweeted Friday night: ‘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.’
Wahl, who covered American and world soccer on his Substack, CBS Sports, NBC News and previously worked for Sports Illustrated, was ‘healthy’ before he collapsed during a game Friday, according to brother Eric in an Instagram video he posted
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 recognised 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.’
Grant Wahl’s last tweet came just hours earlier, when he described the tying goal the Netherlands had scored against Argentina in their World Cup quarterfinal match, which he was in attendance for.
Wahl wrote this week that he had been among 82 journalists honored by FIFA and the international sports press association AIPS for attending eight or more World Cups.
FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gounder on a COVID health briefing with Biden and former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on October 28, 2020