Grant Wahl was one of the best-known soccer writers in the United States. He died early Saturday morning while covering the World Cup game between Argentina and the Netherlands. He was 49.
U.S. reporters sitting next to him in the press box at Lusail Iconic Stadium said that Wahl fell back in his seat during extra time, and reporters next to him called for help. The reporters said that emergency workers got there very quickly, and they were later told that Wahl had died.
Wahl was at the World Cup for the eighth time. On Monday, he wrote on his website that while he was in Qatar, he went to a medical clinic.
“My body finally gave out on me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress, and a lot of work can do that to you,” Wahl wrote. “What had been cold for the last 10 days turned into something worse on the night of the USA-Netherlands game, and I could feel a new level of pressure and discomfort in my upper chest.
“I didn’t have Covid (I test routinely here), but I did go to the medical clinic at the major media center today, and they diagnosed me with bronchitis and prescribed antibiotics and some strong cough syrup; I’m already starting to feel better just a few hours later, but it’s still not good.”
Wahl said on his podcast on Thursday that he had bronchitis and went back to the doctor.
“I pretty much-canceled everything I was supposed to do on Thursday, slept, and now I’m a little bit better, but you can probably tell from my voice that I’m not at 100%,” he said “I hope I won’t cough while this podcast plays. I have to cough a lot. Everyone here is coughing, and it’s not just me. So many journalists have a crazy cough, and everyone here is coughing. It sometimes sounds like a death rattle.
We’re just seeing a lot of general sicknesses, coughing, and colds, and I can’t wait to be on the other side of what I have. However, I will be set to go because I am attending on Friday. The one thing that surprises me is that there isn’t that much COVID here.
During the World Cup, Wahl got attention from all over the world when he said he was briefly stopped from going to the US game against Wales on Nov. 21 because he was wearing a rainbow-colored T-shirt to show support for LGBTQIA+. In Qatar, a conservative Muslim country, LGBTQIA+ rights are against the law.
Wahl wrote that a security commander held him for 25 minutes at the Ahmed Bin Ali stadium in Al Rayyan. After that, he was let go. Wahl said that FIFA told him it was sorry.
Wahl graduated from Princeton in 1996. From 1996 to 2021, he worked for Sports Illustrated, where he was best known for writing about soccer and college basketball. Then he set up his own website. From 2012 to 2019, Wahl also worked for Fox Sports.
Dr. Celine Gounder, his wife, and a medical expert who contributed to CBS News’ coverage of health care issues, is a clinical associate professor at NYU School of Medicine, an attending physician at Bellevue Hospital Center, and the sole heir to his estate.
Gounder tweeted Friday night that she was “Completely Shocked” and thanked everyone for supporting her husband.
U.S. Ned Price, a spokesman for the State Department, said in a tweet that the U.S. is “working with senior Qatari officials to make sure that his family’s wishes are met as soon as possible.”
“We were proud to work with him and call him a friend for 20 years. No writer in the history of SI cared more about the sport he loved and the stories he wanted to tell,” the statement said. Our deepest sympathies go out to Celine and his family and to all those who enjoyed his writing; he will always be remembered as a member of the SI family.
U.S. Soccer also said they were “Heartbroken” to hear about Wahl’s death in a statement on Friday night.
U.S. Soccer Statement On The Passing Of Grant Wahl: pic.twitter.com/CBp1mCK1mQ
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) December 10, 2022
Wahl wrote that he was one of 82 journalists who had been honored by FIFA and the international sports press association AIPS for going to eight or more World Cups.