Grant Wahl was a well-known soccer journalist who wrote a lot about the game. He died on Friday in Qatar, where he was covering the World Cup quarterfinal match between Argentina and the Netherlands.
In a phone call on Friday night, Wahl’s agent, Tim Scanlan, confirmed that he had died. Scanlan said that Wahl was in the press box when he became very upset in the last few minutes of the game.
Scanlan said that he thinks he died in a hospital in Qatar or while being taken to one. He had been feeling sick as the tournament went on.
Scanlan said, “He wasn’t sleeping well, so I asked him if he had tried melatonin or something similar.” He said, “I just need to chill out for a little while.”
Two New York Times reporters who were there said that Wahl was treated for about 20 minutes before he was taken out of Lusail Iconic Stadium. This included chest compressions and other treatments.
Wahl was in the middle of his eighth men’s World Cup, where he was working hard to cover stories and record podcasts.
Wahl’s wife’s Statement on Twitter
In a tweet, Wahl’s wife, Dr. Celine Gounder, also said that he had died. A family friend said that Gounder wanted to be left alone and would leave all public comments to the U.S. Embassy in Qatar and the United States Soccer Federation.
I am so thankful for the support of my husband @GrantWahl‘s soccer family & of so many friends who’ve reached out tonight.
I’m in complete shock. https://t.co/OB3IzOxGlE
— Céline Gounder, MD, ScM, FIDSA 🇺🇦 (@celinegounder) December 10, 2022
Ned Price, a spokesman for the State Department, said that U.S. officials were in touch with Wahl’s family and were “working with senior Qatari officials to make sure that his family’s wishes are met as soon as possible.”
About Grant Wahl
Wahl, who is 48 years old, started his career as a journalist in 1996 at Sports Illustrated, where he worked for more than 23 years. He used to write about both soccer and college basketball.
In 2002, when LeBron James was a junior in high school, he wrote “The Chosen One,” which was the magazine’s first cover story. Wahl then switched to only writing about soccer, and both his career and the sport’s popularity in the United States grew.
The United States Soccer Federation said in a statement Friday night that Grant’s love of soccer and desire to make it more well-known in American sports did a lot to increase interest in and respect for “our beautiful game.” Don Garber, the commissioner of Major League Soccer, wrote that Wahl “was a kind and caring person whose passion for soccer and dedication to journalism was unmatched.”
Wahl grew up in Mission, Kansas, which is near Kansas City. He went to Princeton University and got his degree in 1996. Wahl fell in love with soccer at Princeton. As a reporter for The Daily Princetonian, he wrote about the team when Bob Bradley, who later led the US men’s national team at the 2010 World Cup, was the coach.
Wahl was one of the few journalists who covered soccer full-time and wrote dozens of cover stories for Sports Illustrated. He introduced Americans to great soccer players like Neymar and David Beckham, as well as American stars like Christian Pulisic and Alex Morgan.
He wrote a book called “The Beckham Experiment” about the years Beckham played in Major League Soccer. He also wrote “Masters of Modern Soccer,” which is about how the best soccer players think. Wahl has also worked in TV for Fox Sports and, more recently, for CBS.
Wahl worked at Sports Illustrated for 24 years before the publisher of the magazine, Maven, fired him over a disagreement about pay cuts related to the pandemic.
But Wahl quickly went out on his own. He started an email newsletter called “Ftbol with Grant Wahl” that had thousands of paid subscribers. He also started a podcast with Meadowlark Media, a sports media company started by John Skipper and Dan Le Batard, both of whom had worked at ESPN.
“He is the best soccer reporter in America, in my opinion. “He was kind of a pioneer in this space,” his podcast co-host Chris Wittyngham said. “He was so sweet. It’s a cliche, but he had a lot of that Midwestern charm.
Wahl Statement During World Cup
During the World Cup, Wahl was in Qatar writing every day and making podcasts every other day. Wahl wrote about his health problems in recent days, during a stretch of coverage that, he said, usually only let him sleep about five hours a night.
He wrote that what had seemed like a cold for more than a week had “turned into something more serious” around Dec. 3, when the U.S. played the Netherlands.
“I could feel a new level of pressure and pain in my upper chest,” he wrote, adding that he had been tested and didn’t have the coronavirus. He said that the doctors in Qatar thought that he had bronchitis. He said that the antibiotics he was given seemed to work, which was backed up by the fact that he slept for 12 hours.
L.G.B.T.Q. Support BY Wahl
Earlier in the tournament, Wahl got a lot of attention for wearing a rainbow-colored T-shirt to the game between Wales and the U.S. in support of L.G.B.T.Q. rights. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, so stadium security guards have asked some fans who wore rainbows or carried rainbow flags why they did so.
Why did the security guard tell Wahl to take off his shirt?
Wahl wrote that security guards at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium held him for 25 minutes and told him that his shirt was political and that he needed to take it off. Wahl said no, and a security guard had to apologize before letting him into the stadium.
Scanlan said his birthday was on Thursday, but he had a party at his apartment in Qatar on Wednesday night.