An American football journalist who made headlines after being denied entry to the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) opener for wearing a pro-LGBT t-shirt has died while that he was covering the World Cup in Qatar.
Wahl was 48 years old.
An old Sports Illustrated A journalist who started his own Substack account, Wahl collapsed at the Lusail Iconic Stadium on Friday while covering the game between Argentina and the Netherlands. Wahl was rushed to hospital but attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
Grant’s brother Eric, who convinced him to wear the pro-LGBT rainbow jersey in the USMNT opener against Wales, believes the Qataris were involved in his death brother.
“My name is Eric Wahl. I live in Seattle, Washington. I’m Grant Wahl’s brother. I’m gay,” he said in a video posted to Instagram. worn the rainbow jersey at the World Cup. My brother was healthy. He told me he had received death threats. I don’t believe my brother just died. I believe he was killed. And I’m just asking for help.
While Grant Wahl was initially denied entry to the US men’s team’s first World Cup match against Wales for wearing a rainbow jersey with a soccer ball in the center, he was only detained by the authorities for 30 minutes before finally being allowed to participate in the match.
As the New York Post reports, “Wahl has been a vocal critic of the Qatari government and its organization of the World Cup. On Thursday, he wrote “They don’t care”. Qatari World Cup organizers don’t even hide their apathy over the deaths of migrant workers, including the most recent,” in a post on its Substack.
Of course, Wahl wasn’t the only one to criticize the World Cup host country. Virtually all independent opinion journalists expressed some degree of concept about Qatar’s LGBT rights record, or lack thereof. Or the Muslim country’s treatment of the thousands of migrant workers who built so many stadiums and accommodations that were used to accommodate the crowds of international supporters.
On Thursday, the day before his death, Wahl revealed he was battling bronchitis.
“I think my body told me, even after I got out of the States, ‘man, you’re not getting enough sleep.’ He rebelled against me,” Wahl revealed on his podcast. “So I had a case of bronchitis this week, I went to the media center medical clinic twice, including today. I feel better today, I pretty much canceled this Thursday and I took a nap. And I’m a little better. I think you can probably tell by my voice that I’m not 100 percent.”
Wahl’s widow is Celine R. Gounder, an infectious disease physician who served on Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board transition team.
Gounder took to Twitter on Friday night to thank her supporters and express her shock at her husband’s sudden death.
“So grateful for the support of my husband’s football family @GrantWahl and so many friends who reached out tonight,” she wrote. “I am completely in shock.”
I am so grateful for the support of my husband @GrantWahlfrom the football family and so many friends who reached out tonight.
I am completely in shock. https://t.co/OB3IzOxGlE
— Celine Gounder, MD, ScM, FIDSA 🇺 (@celinegounder) December 10, 2022
US Soccer also expressed sadness over Wahl’s passing.
American Football statement on the passing of Grant Wahl: pic.twitter.com/CBp1mCK1mQ
— American Football (@ussoccer) December 10, 2022
Eric Wahl said in his Instagram post that he spoke with the State Department and that his brother’s wife, Celine, spoke to Ron Klain at the White House about his brother’s death.