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10th Dec 2022

US soccer reporter Grant Wahl dies at World Cup, after collapsing during Argentina’s dramatic victory

Patrick McCarry

‘He was the guy for soccer in the US.’

US soccer reporter Grant Wahl has tragically died while on duty at the 2022 World Cup, in Qatar.

The American, who was formerly of Sports Illustrated and who reporting at his eighth World Cup, was at the quarter final between Argentina and the Netherlands, in Lusail, and passed away not long after that match concluded.

Wahl was reporting on the quarter final clash, which went to penalties after The Netherlands rallied from 2-0 down to score two late goals and force a spot-kick decider after extra time. During the game, he marvelled at the skill of Lionel Messi, was exasperated by Leandro Paredes and joked about the Dutch ending the match with a ‘Luuk de Jong/Wout Weghorst buddy cop film’.

Ultimately, it was Weghorst’s double strike that sent the game to extra time and penalties. That equaliser was the final update from Wahl’s Twitter account, though.

During extra time, Wahl collapsed at the Lusail Stadium and, according to The Guardian, was given CPR by medics at the ground until an Uber vehicle arrived to rush him to hospital. As per the US Soccer Federation, however, Grant Wahl died en-route to the hospital. He was 48 years old.

Only four days ago, Grant Wahl received an accolade, along with 81 other football writers and correspondents, from Brazil legend Ronaldo, for covering eight World Cup tournaments. He was reporting on this tournament for CBS but had his own account and Fútbol podcast going, too.

Grant Wahl ‘received death threats’

At present, the cause of death for Grant Wahl has not been established. An ‘apparent heart attack’ was mentioned in the Guardian report, while Wahl himself had written about being struck down with suspected bronchitis while reporting on the World Cup, in Qatar.

‘My body finally broke down on me,” he wrote, on his Substack account. ‘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 centre 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”

Earlier in the tournament, Wahl reported that he had been detained by match officials when he showed up at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, in Al Rayyan, to cover USA’s opening World Cup match against Wales in a t-shirt that bore a rainbow symbol.

Wahl initially tweeted that he was being refused entry to the ground for wearing the t-shirt, in support of LGBTQ+ rights, but he eventually was allowed in after a lengthy hold-up.

Not long after the news of the 48-year-old’s passing, his brother, Eric, posted an emotional update on his Instagram page. He declared:

“My name is Eric Wahl. I live in Seattle, Washington. I am Grant Wahl’s brother. I’m gay. I am the reason he wore the rainbow shirt to the World Cup. My brother was healthy. He told me he received death threats. I do not believe my brother just died. I believe he was killed. And I just beg for help.”

While Eric Wahl has since deleted that video, he has been active on Twitter and reiterated that his brother had received death threats whilst in Qatar.

Grant Wahl (centre, right) and Dr Céline Gounder (right) pictured with Greg Lalas, co-founder of Kicking + Screening, in 2014. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty)

Tributes flood in for Grant Wahl

With news breaking about the passing of Grant Wahl on Saturday night in the United States, many football supporters, and those familiar with the human rights campaigning of the American, have taken to social media to pay tribute.

Former USWNT star Carli Lloyd described Wahl’s passing as ‘truly heartbreaking’. Bill Simmons of The Ringer declared, ‘Such sad news. Can’t believe it, don’t want to believe it’, while Ariel Helwani stated, ‘I truly can’t believe this. Grant Wahl was an incredible journalist and a better human being.’

Céline Gounder, Wahl’s wife, wrote, ‘I am so thankful for the support of my husband, Grant Wahl’s soccer family and of so many friends who’ve reached out tonight. I’m in complete shock.’ US Soccer also released this lengthy statement:

While there will an investigation into the passing of Grant Wahl by local authorities in Qatar, the extent of United States officials’ involvement in the matter remains to be seen.

Wahl was writing extensively on the 2022 World Cup on his Substack account. You can find his stories here.

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