Home » World Cup 2022: US sports journalist Grant Wahl dies in Qatar

World Cup 2022: US sports journalist Grant Wahl dies in Qatar

by Mahmmod Shar

By James Gregory

A prominent football journalist from the United States has died while covering the World Cup in Qatar.

Grant Wahl, 48, collapsed as extra time began in the Argentina-Netherlands game on Friday night.

Early reports suggest he may have had a heart attack, but this has yet to be officially confirmed.

Last month Mr Wahl was briefly detained by Qatari authorities for trying to enter a stadium wearing a rainbow shirt, in support of LGBT rights.

In a statement, the US Soccer Federation said it was “heartbroken” by the news.

“Fans of soccer and journalism of the highest quality knew we could always count on Grant to deliver insightful and entertaining stories about our game, and its major protagonists,” it said.


In a tweet, Mr Wahl’s wife, Céline Gounder, said she was in “complete shock”, adding that she was “so thankful” for the support she had received from friends.

Mr Wahl celebrated his 48th birthday on Thursday with friends in Qatar, a day before he collapsed. He wrote on his website on Monday that he had been unwell in the last 10 days and was on a course of antibiotics for suspected bronchitis.

“My body finally broke down on me,” he wrote. “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 and the main media center today, and they said I probably have bronchitis.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said Mr Wahl’s love for football was “immense”, adding that his reporting would be “missed by all who follow the global game”.

Tributes have poured in from several high-profile UK journalists.

Henry Winter, chief football writer for the Times, told BBC News Mr Wahl’s death represented a “desperate moment” for the industry and football across the world.

“Anyone who met Grant was immediately enthused by him,” he said. “He was so passionate about the game, passionate about the industry.

“He promoted soccer in the United States – probably one of the reasons they’re going to be such good hosts of [the World Cup] in four years’ time is because of his passion, his writing, his almost evangelical zeal to promote the sport in his homeland and to also get behind the men’s national team and women’s national team.”

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Winter also revealed to the BBC how Mr. Wahl had mentioned his eventual decision to withdraw from his plans to run for FIFA President in 2011.

“Grant Wahl was a renowned and enormously respected journalist, and the flood of tributes is testament to the esteem in which he was held,” BBC Sport’s Dan Roan tweeted.

Don Garber, the commissioner of Major League Soccer, wrote on Twitter that his organization was “shocked, saddened, and heartbroken” over Grant Wahl’s tragic passing. His love for soccer and commitment to journalism were immeasurable. He was a kind and caring man.

Billie Jean King, a legendary tennis player in the US, praised Mr. Wahl as well, calling him “an advocate for the LGBTQ community and a prominent voice for women’s soccer.”

The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, the Qatari organization in charge of organizing the World Cup, released the following statement regarding Grant Wahl’s passing: “We are deeply saddened by his passing.

“Grant was in Qatar to cover his eighth Fifa World Cup and was well known for his fervent love of football.

“He became ill while watching Argentina vs. Netherlands last night in the Lusail Stadium media tribune. On-site emergency medical care was provided right away, and it continued as he was transported by ambulance to Hamad General Hospital.

“We are in contact with the US Embassy and the appropriate local authorities to make sure the body is returned in accordance with the family’s wishes,” the statement reads.


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