On this 2014 photo, sportswriter Grant Wahl works as a sideline reporter during halftime.
Andy Mead | YCJ | Icon Sportswire |Corbis | Getty Images
Grant Wahl, a longtime soccer sportswriter, died Friday in Qatar while covering the World Cup.
NPR national supervising editor Russell Lewis tweeted that Wahl was covering the Argentina-Netherlands quarterfinal match when he died. Wahl was 48.
The explanation for death was not immediately available.
U.S. Soccer said in its statement that the team was “heartbroken” over Wahl’s death.
“Fans of soccer and journalism of the best quality knew we could all the time count on Grant to deliver insightful and entertaining stories about our game,” the organization said.
In a post Dec. 5 on his personal website, Wahl said he felt sick and that medical personnel on-site on the World Cup told him he probably had bronchitis. He said he was given antibiotics.
“My body finally broke down on me,” he wrote. “Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and numerous work can do this to you. What had been a chilly during the last 10 days became something more severe on the night of the USA-Netherlands game, and I could feel my upper chest tackle a latest level of pressure and discomfort.”
His wife, Dr. Céline Gounder, tweeted late Friday that the news got here as a “complete shock.”
“I’m so thankful for the support of my husband @GrantWahl’s soccer family & of so many friends who’ve reached out tonight,” she said.
The U.S. State Department said it has urged the Qatari government to meet his family’s wishes, but didn’t specify what those were.
“We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Grant Wahl and send our condolences to his family, with whom we’ve got been in close communication,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a tweet.
In his writing, Wahl had reflected on the extraordinary nature of a World Cup in Qatar, and noted an incident on Nov. 21, when he said he was stopped by security and held because he refused to remove a T-shirt with a rainbow logo that signified solidarity with LGBTQ+ rights. Same-sex relations are illegal within the country.
It happened as he arrived at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan to cover the U.S.-Wales game, Wahl later wrote.
Wahl said he was held greater than half-hour, refusing to remove the shirt, until a security commander got here to release him and shake his hand.
He relayed the incident in an interview on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports.
“It left me wondering about what it’s like for Qataris who’re here outside of the World Cups who’re gay because this was something that I needed to cope with at an event that was being covered globally,” Wahl told Mitchell.
Wahl is from Mission, Kansas, and attended Princeton University as an undergraduate.
In line with a bio from the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Wahl covered at the very least 10 World Cups and five Olympics.
He was known for his work for Sports Illustrated and as a commentator on NPR. He wrote a well-received book about David Beckham’s foray into U.S. soccer, titled “The Beckham Experiment.”
It was the primary Recent York Times Bestseller with soccer as the subject.
Sports Illustrated’s top editors said late Friday that he began there in 1996 and left to pursue independent projects in 2020.
“We’re shocked and devastated on the news of Grant’s passing,” SI’s co-editors in chief, Ryan Hunt and Stephen Cannella, said. “We were proud to call him a colleague and friend for 20 years. No author within the history of SI has been more obsessed with the game he loved and the stories he desired to tell.”
Quite a few soccer organizations reacted late Friday to Wahl’s death. the National Soccer Hall of Fame said few supported the concept of honoring the best players as he did; Major League Soccer said Wahl’s passion for the sport was immeasurable; and Angel City Football Club in Los Angeles said soccer “is best due to him.”
“His commitment to sharing the stories of our beautiful game was unmatched, but more importantly, his integrity, thoughtfulness and kindness were central were central to the way in which he lived,” National Women’s Soccer League said in a statement.
A few of Wahl’s readers credited him with helping grow the game’s fan base in america.
Film and TV producer Franklin Leonard said Wahl’s importance to the sport stateside is difficult to measure.
“Should you’re not each an American AND a fan of the attractive game, it is perhaps extremely hard to grasp Grant Wahl’s intending to the community of parents who’re,” he tweeted, “and truthfully I’m type of at a loss to articulate it.”