The body and belongings of soccer journalist Grant Wahl were repatriated to the United States on Monday after he died last week while covering the World Cup in Qatar, a senior State Department official said.
The official said Wahl’s body and personal effects arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport around 8:30 a.m. ET. They were accompanied by a consular official from the US Embassy in Doha who had custody of Wahl’s remains shortly after he collapsed during Friday’s game between Argentina and the Netherlands. Bas and that he died later.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for confidentiality reasons, did not provide further details, but said the Qatari embassy worked with Wahl’s family to ensure the smooth running of the repatriation.
Wahl, an American journalist who helped boost the popularity of soccer in the United States and reported on some of the sport’s biggest stories, was 49.
Tributes to Wahl have poured in since his death and on Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken added his voice to the chorus of appreciation.
“I so enjoyed Grant Wahl, whose writing captured not only the essence of the beautiful game but also the world around it,” Blinken wrote on Twitter about an hour after the repatriation wrapped.
“I send my deepest condolences to his family and thank our Embassy team and our Qatari partners who worked together so effectively to fulfill their wishes,” Blinken wrote.
Wahl, who had complained of respiratory problems earlier in the week and had been treated for a possible case of bronchitis, collapsed in his seat in a section of the Lusail stadium reserved for journalists during extra time for the match, and reporters next to him called for help.
The emergency services intervened very quickly, treated him for 20 or 30 minutes on the spot then took him out on a stretcher. The World Cup organizing committee said he was taken to Hamad General Hospital in Doha, but did not give a cause of death.
Wahl wrote for Sports Illustrated for more than two decades and then launched its own website. He was a major voice informing the American public about football at a time of heightened interest after the United States hosted the 1994 World Cup.
He also took a critical look at the international sports organizing bodies.