LUSAIL, Qatar — Grant Wahl, one of the best-known football writers in the United States, died early Saturday while covering the World Cup match between Argentina and the Netherlands.
US media seated near him said Wahl fell in his seat in the media box at Lusail Iconic Stadium during extra time and reporters next to him called for help. Emergency service workers responded very quickly, reporters said, and reporters later learned that Wahl had died.
Wahl tweeted Wednesday that he celebrated his birthday that day. American reporters who knew Wahl said he was 49.
“We could always count on Grant to deliver insightful and entertaining stories about our game and its main protagonists,” the United States Soccer Federation said in a statement. “Grant’s belief in the power of play to advance human rights has been and will remain an inspiration to all. Grant has made football his life’s work, and we are devastated that he and his brilliant writing are no longer with us.
Wahl was covering his eighth World Cup. He wrote on his website on Monday that he visited a medical clinic while in Qatar.
“My body finally crumbled on me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and a lot of work can do this to you,” Wahl wrote. turned into something more serious on the night of the USA-Netherlands game, and I could feel my upper chest taking 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 to the main media center medical clinic today, and they said I probably had bronchitis. They gave me a course of antibiotics and cough syrup, and I feel already a little better a few hours later. But still: No bueno,” he wrote.
Wahl wore a rainbow t-shirt in support of LGBTQ rights during the USA World Cup opener against Wales on November 21 and wrote that security denied him entry and told him to take the shirt off. Gay and lesbian sex is criminalized in Qatar, a conservative Muslim country.
Wahl wrote that he was held for 25 minutes at Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, then released by a security commander. Wahl said FIFA apologized to him.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted Friday evening: “We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Grant Wahl and extend our condolences to his family, with whom we have been in close communication. We are in contact with senior Qatari officials to ensure that his family’s wishes are granted as soon as possible. »
Wahl is survived by his wife, Dr. Celine Gounder, associate professor at New York University School of Medicine, attending physician at Bellevue Hospital Center and CBS News contributor.
Gounder tweeted that she was grateful for the support of her husband’s “soccer family” and friends who had reached out to her.
“I am completely in shock,” she wrote.
A voter in the annual FIFA awards, Wahl wrote this week that he was among 82 journalists honored by FIFA and the international sports press association AIPS for attending eight or more World Cups.
Wahl graduated from Princeton in 1996 and worked for Sports Illustrated from 1996 to 2021, known primarily for his coverage of college football and basketball. He then launched his own website.
Wahl also worked for Fox Sports from 2012 to 2019.