One of America’s top football reporters, who made headlines while being detained at the Qatar World Cup for wearing a rainbow jersey, died Friday while covering the quarter-final match in Doha, according to his wife. him and the United States Soccer Federation.
Grant Wahl, 48, helped build soccer’s popularity in the United States through decades of live coverage at Sports Illustrated, then CBS Sports.
According to NPR, Wahl collapsed in front of a press court as Friday’s match between Argentina and the Netherlands drew to a close. Paramedics performed CPR at the scene before taking him on a stretcher. The Wall Street Journal said Wahl appeared to be having a heart attack.
“Grant made football his lifelong business, and we are saddened that he and his brilliant writing will no longer be with us,” US Soccer said in a statement.
It said “the entire US football family is heartbroken.”
Wahl’s wife, Celine Gounder, a prominent epidemiologist and expert on infectious diseases, wrote on Twitter: “I’m in complete shock.”
Wahl was arrested by security personnel in Qatar on November 21 after he wore a rainbow jersey to the opening match between the US and Wales team, showing support for LGBTQ rights in a country that is very important. Homosexuality is outlawed.
Wahl said on his subscription newsletter earlier this week that he went to a clinic at the media center in Qatar, “and they said I might have bronchitis.”
“My body finally collapsed. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and a lot of work can take its toll on you… I can feel my upper chest taking on a whole new level of pressure and discomfort,” he wrote.
With some antibiotics and “some severe cough syrup,” Wahl said he “felt better just a few hours later. But still: No bueno.
Wahl in 1996 joined Sports Illustrated, at the time America’s premiere sports publication, to cover football. He stayed with the magazine until 2020, joining CBS Sports a year later.
He also launched a subscription email newsletter platform and posted to that platform during the World Cup.
State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Grant Wahl” and added that US authorities have been “in close contact” with his family.
“We are working with senior Qatari officials to ensure that his family’s wishes are fulfilled as quickly as possible,” Price wrote.
The news of Wahl’s death caused a wave of emotions from the football world, an indication of his role in promoting the sport – both amateur and professional – in the United States. .
“Football fans and the highest quality journalism know we can count on Grant to deliver interesting and insightful stories about our game and its protagonists. : teams, players, coaches and many personalities that make football like no other sport,” said US Soccer.
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