Popular American soccer journalist, Grant Wahl, has died in Qatar during the Argentina-Netherlands match on Friday. A former sports journalist for CBS Sports, Fox Sports, and Sports Illustrated, the 48-year-old reporter from Philadelphia had reported being unwell for nearly two weeks before he collapsed at the World Cup 2022.
According to several journalist colleagues, Wahl slumped at the Lusail Stadium during the extra time given to Argentina and Netherlands. Medics had arrived promptly to attend to him before taking him out on a stretcher, but he was reported dead shortly after.
The Supreme Court Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the Qatari body in charge of organizing the World Cup 2022, said Wahl was treated for about 25 minutes at the stadium before being moved to Hamad General Hospital. Colleagues at the stadium said he must have died during the transfer to the hospital or at the hospital.
On Monday, Wahl reported that he was very sick and had been treated at the clinic at the stadium. He said he had been unable to sleep for three weeks, had a tight chest, and suffered what seemed like a cold for about 10 days. He said he felt better after being on antibiotics and cough syrup.
“My body finally broke down on me,” he had written. “Three weeks of little sleep, high stress, and lots of work can do that to you. What had been a cold over the last 10 days turned into something more severe on the night of the USA-Netherlands game, and I could feel my upper chest take on a new level of pressure and discomfort.
“I didn’t have Covid (I test regularly here), but I went into the medical clinic at the main media center today, and they said I probably have bronchitis. They gave me a course of antibiotics and some heavy-duty cough syrup, and I’m already feeling a bit better just a few hours later. But still: No bueno.”
US Soccer tweeted that Wahl died and the internet became abuzz with many people across the United States expressing their sentiments. “Grant made soccer his life’s work, and we are devastated that he and his brilliant writing will no longer be with us,” US Soccer wrote. “His writing and the stories he told will live on.”
Wahl was instrumental in helping Los Angeles Lakers superstar, LeBron James, hit the world limelight when he did a cover story on him at Sports Illustrated. He covered soccer for more than 20 years; he was at 11 World Cup events and wrote several books on soccer. The US Embassy in Qatar and the Qatari government said they are working on bringing home his body according to what his family wanted.
Wahl’s wife, Dr. Celine Gounder, expressed thanks to everyone who reached out to the family. She said she is in “complete shock”.