Grant Wahl, a prominent American soccer journalist, died unexpectedly in Qatar while covering the Netherlands-Argentina World Cup match on Friday.
Wahl, who grew up in Mission, Kansas, was perhaps America’s best-known soccer writer.
Wahl also worked for Fox Sports and CBS Sports, as well as having his own Substack newsletter, GrantWahl.com. He was also the author of “The Beckham Experiment,” a 2009 New York Times best-seller that chronicled the impact of David Beckham’s move to the MLS’s LA Galaxy.
On Wednesday, he celebrated his 49th birthday, tweeting that while there were no games, he was happy to be with friends and colleagues.
Who exactly is Grant Wahl?
Grant Wahl is well-known among soccer fans. Even if you aren’t, you’ve probably heard of his award-winning journalism.
He worked for Sports Illustrated for 24 years, starting after graduating from Princeton in 1996 and focusing on soccer and college basketball. However, his tenure at SI came to an end in 2020 when he was fired by the magazine’s publisher, Maven, following a pay cut during the coronavirus pandemic.
What happened to Grant Wahl?
According to US media seated nearby, Wahl fell back in his seat in a section of Lusail Iconic Stadium reserved for journalists during extra time of Argentina’s game against the Netherlands, and reporters adjacent to him requested assistance. According to the reporters, emergency personnel responded quickly, and they were later informed that Wahl had died.
According to The Times, a British newspaper, there was no defibrillator on site.
“He received immediate emergency medical treatment on site, which continued as he was transported by ambulance to Hamad General Hospital,” the World Cup organising committee said in a statement that did not specify the cause of death. “We are in contact with the US Embassy and relevant local authorities to ensure that the body is returned in accordance with the family’s wishes.”
Wahl had written that he had been feeling ill in the days leading up to his death, saying, “I could feel my upper chest take on a new level of pressure and discomfort.” He sought medical attention for what was likely bronchitis and was given antibiotics.
What was the reason for Grant Wahl’s detention in Qatar?
Wahl said he was detained in Qatar for “nearly half an hour” before the USMNT-Wales match on Nov. 21 because he was wearing a rainbow shirt in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Qatar’s anti-LGBTQ laws and treatment of LGBTQ people were flashpoints in the run-up to the Middle East’s first World Cup. Qatar has stated that everyone is welcome, including LGBTQ people, but that visitors must respect the country’s culture.