Famous American football journalist Grant Wahl has died while covering the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. He was 48 years old.
Wahl reportedly collapsed while covering the Argentina-Netherlands quarter-final. After paramedics performed CPR for several minutes at the scene, he was taken to hospital.
Wahl’s brother Eric announced his death on Instagram and issued an emotional plea for help.
“I’m gay. I’m the reason he wore the rainbow jersey at the World Cup,” said Eric Wahl. “My brother was in good health. 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 pleading help.”
Eric Wahl referenced an incident Grant Wahl faced two weeks ago when he tried to enter the stadium wearing a rainbow shirt and was stopped by security.
“They demanded that I take off the shirt. I refused. Then, right after I tweeted, they forcibly took my cell phone and kept it for 30 minutes. I repeatedly asked to get it back. They didn’t give it to me,” Wahl told MSNBC late last month. “They made me stand in front of a CCTV camera, presumably with someone on the other end making some kind of judgment, and I told them it wasn’t right for them to do this. Eventually , the security commander came over and let me in and keep my jersey on and it went from there they apologized, FIFA apologized and, you know, it got me wondering what it is for the Qataris who are here outside the World Cups who are gay because it was something I had to deal with at an event that was covered worldwide.”
In his latest post on his Substack “Fútbol” newsletter, Wahl wrote a scathing piece about the Qatari officials in charge of the World Cup, telling his readers: “They don’t care.”
“The Supreme Committee in charge of the Qatar World Cup does not care that a Filipino migrant worker died in the Saudi Arabia training station during the group stage. He received a fatal blow to the head during a fall in a forklift accident (information kept secret until broken by Adam Crafton of The Athletic),” Wahl wrote Thursday. “We know the Supreme Committee of Qatar doesn’t care because its CEO, Nasser Al-Khater, told you everything you needed to hear in an interview with the BBC that was jaw-droppingly rude. .”
Wahl quoted Al-Khater, who told the BBC: “We’re in the middle of a World Cup, and we’ve got a successful World Cup. And that’s something you want to talk about now?… I want to say, death is a natural part of life, whether it’s at work, whether it’s in your sleep. Of course, a worker has died. Our condolences go out to his family. However, it’s strange that it’s something what you wanted to focus on as your first question.
On Thursday, Wahl spoke of feeling unwell throughout the week, saying he had bronchitis.
“My body, I think, told me, even after I got out of the States, ‘Man, you’re not getting enough sleep.’ He rebelled against me,” Wahl said. “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. You can probably tell by my voice that I’m not 100% here.
US Soccer released a statement saying “the entire US Soccer family is heartbroken”.
“Fans of the highest quality football and journalism know that we can always count on Grant to deliver insightful and entertaining stories about our game and its main protagonists: the teams, players, coaches and the many personalities who make football different from any sport,” USA Football said. “Grant has made football his life’s work, and we are devastated that he and his brilliant writing are no longer with us.”
Wahl began his reporting career at the Miami Herald as an intern and worked at Sports Illustrated from 1996 to 2020. He also worked for FOX Sports and CBS Sports during his career.
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He is survived by his wife, Dr. Céline Gounder.
“So grateful for the support of my husband’s football family @GrantWahl and so many friends who reached out to me tonight,” Gounder tweeted. “I am completely in shock.”