US journalist Grant Wahl dies after collapsing at the World Cup in Qatar


Prominent American journalist Grant Wahl has died in Qatar after collapsing while covering the World Cup, sending a flurry of shock and grief throughout the sports world.

He “passed out” in the press area while covering the Argentina-Netherlands game on Friday, a witness told CNN.

The circumstances of his death are unclear. He was 48 years old, according to a statement from his former employer, Sports Illustrated.

“The entire US Soccer family is heartbroken to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl,” US Soccer said in a statement on its official Twitter account.

“Grant made football his life’s work, and we are devastated that he and his brilliant writing will no longer be with us.”

US Soccer praised Wahl’s passion and “belief in the power of the game to advance human rights” and shared its condolences with Wahl’s wife, Celine Gounder, and their loved ones.

Gounder also posted US Soccer’s statement on Twitter.

“I am so grateful for the support of my husband Grant Wahl’s soccer family and so many friends who have reached out tonight. I am completely shocked,” wrote Gounder, a former CNN contributor who served on the Biden-Harris Covid-19 transition advisory council.

Wahl has covered soccer for more than two decades, including 11 World Cups, and is the author of several books on the sport, according to his website.

In an episode of the Futbol with Grant Wahl podcast, published just days before his death on December 6, he had complained of feeling unwell.

“It had gotten pretty bad in terms of tightness in my chest, tightness, pressure. Feeling quite hairy, bad. Wahl told co-host Chris Wittyngham on the episode. He added that he sought help at the medical clinic in the World Cup press center, believing he had bronchitis.

They gave him cough syrup and ibuprofen, and soon after he felt better, he said.

Wahl also said he experienced an “involuntary capitulation of my body and mind” after the game between the United States and the Netherlands on December 3.

“This is not my first rodeo. I’ve done eight of these on the men’s side,” she said at the time. “And so, I’ve gotten sick to some degree every tournament, and it’s just trying to find a way to make you like doing your job.”

In addition, he described the incident in a recent newsletter published on December 5, writing that his body had “broken down” after little sleep, high stress, and a heavy workload. She had a cold for 10 days, which “developed into something more serious,” she wrote, adding that she felt better after receiving antibiotics and catching up on sleep.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the department was in “close communication” with Wahl’s family.

Wahl’s death has shocked the soccer and sports journalism community, with many sharing tributes on social media.

The co-editors-in-chief of Sports Illustrated, the publication where Wahl spent most of his career, said in a joint statement that they were “shocked and devastated by the news of Grant’s passing.”

“We were proud to call him a colleague and friend for two decades; No writer in (Sports Illustrated) history has been more passionate about the sport he loved and the stories he wanted to tell,” the statement said.

He added that Wahl had first joined the publication in November 1996. He had volunteered to cover the sport as a junior reporter, before it reached the heights of global popularity it now enjoys, eventually becoming “a one of the most respected soccer authorities in the world.” world,” he said.

The statement says that Wahl also worked with other news outlets, including Fox Sports. After leaving Sports Illustrated in 2020, he began publishing his own podcast and newsletter.

On Friday in Philadelphia, basketball star LeBron James said he was “very fond of Grant.” While Wahl was at Sports Illustrated, he did a cover story on James when James was in high school.

“I’ve always watched him from a distance, even when I came up through the ranks and turned pro, and he went off to a different sport,” James said, speaking at a postgame news conference. “Every time his name came up, I was always reminded of my teenage years and having Grant in our building… It’s a tragic loss.”

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said in a statement that he was “shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the tragic passing of Grant Wahl.” He had been “a kind and loving person,” he said.
The Women’s National Soccer League also tweeted its condolences, saying Wahl’s “commitment to sharing the stories of our beautiful game was unmatched, but more importantly, his integrity, thoughtfulness and kindness were instrumental in the way he lived “.

Other journalists also shared stories of reporting alongside Wahl and meeting him at multiple World Cups over the years.

“Before he became the best at covering football, he played basketball and was very nice to me,” famous broadcaster Dick Vitale wrote.

Wahl had made headlines in November by reporting that he was detained and briefly denied entry to a World Cup match because he was wearing a rainbow T-shirt in support of LGBTQ rights.

He said that security personnel had told him to change his shirt because “it’s not allowed” and had taken his phone. Wahl said he was released 25 minutes after his arrest and received an apology from a FIFA official and a senior member of the stadium’s security team.

Wahl later told CNN that he will “probably” wear the jersey again.

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