Football journalist Grant Wahl dies while covering World Cup in Qatar
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Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@grant_wahl/Sipa US/Alamy
A US sports journalist has died while covering the World Cup in Qatar, his family have confirmed.
Grant Wahl, 48, collapsed last night (Friday 9 December) while Argentina and the Netherlands were playing their quarter-final fixture.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy - the Qatari body responsible for planning the World Cup - said Wahl received emergency medical treatment on site before being transferred to hospital.
According to the BBC, early reports suggest he suffered a heart attack, but this is yet to be officially confirmed.
Earlier in the week, the journalist had taken to his website to say he had been unwell for the last 10 days, and was on a course of antibiotics for suspected bronchitis.
"My body finally broke down on me," Wahl wrote on Monday 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."
On Thursday – his 48th birthday – he also said on his podcast Futbol with Grant Wahl: “My body I think told me, even after the U.S. went out, ‘dude, you are not sleeping enough.’ It rebelled on me.
“So I’ve had a case of bronchitis this week, I’ve been to the medical clinic at the media center twice now, including today.
“I’m feeling better today I basically cancelled everything on this Thursday that I had and napped. And I’m doing slightly better. I think you can probably tell in my voice that I’m not 100 percent.”
His wife Celine Gounder tweeted to say she was in ‘complete shock’, thanking friends and Wahl’s ‘soccer family’ for their support.
She also shared a statement from the US Soccer Federation, which 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, adding: “Grant’s belief in the power of the game to advance human rights was, and will remain, an inspiration to all.
“Grant made soccer his life’s work, and we are devastated that he and his brilliant writing will no longer be with us.”
Last month, Wahl was briefly detained by authorities in Qatar for attempting to enter a football stadium wearing a t-shirt with a rainbow on it.
In the wake of his death, his brother Eric released a video on Instagram, saying he was the ‘reason’ behind the outfit choice, which was in support of LGBT+ rights.
Eric, whose Instagram has since gone private, said: “My name is Eric Wahl. I live in Seattle, Washington. I am Grant Wahl’s brother. I’m gay.
“I’m 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 any help.”
He continued: “We’re still trying to find out. He collapsed at the stadium, was given CPR, was taken by Uber to hospital and died according to Celine. We just spoke with the state department and Celine has spoken to Ron Klain and the White House.”
A spokesperson for the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, said: "We are deeply saddened by the death of the US journalist Grant Wahl.
"Grant was known for his enormous love of football and was in Qatar to cover his eighth Fifa World Cup.
"He fell ill in the Lusail Stadium media tribune, during last night's quarter-final match between Argentina v Netherlands. He received immediate emergency medical treatment on site, which continued as he was transferred by ambulance to Hamad General Hospital.
"We are in touch with the US Embassy and relevant local authorities to ensure the process of repatriating the body is in accordance with the family's wishes."
UNILAD has reached out to the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy for comment.