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American journalist Grant Wahl dies after collapsing at the World Cup in Qatar

American journalist Grant Wahl dies after collapsing at the World Cup in Qatar



CNN

Prominent American journalist Grant Wahl has died in Qatar after collapsing while covering the World Cup, causing an explosion of shock and grief in the sports world.

He “collapsed” in the press box while covering Friday’s Argentina-Netherlands game, a witness told CNN.

The circumstances surrounding his death are unclear.

“The entire US Soccer family is heartbroken to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl,” US Soccer said in a statement on its official Twitter account.

“Grant made football his life’s work, and we are devastated that he and his brilliant writing will no longer be with us.”

US Soccer praised Wahl’s passion and “belief in the power of the game to advance human rights” and shared its condolences with Wahl’s wife, Celine Gounder, and his loved ones.

Gounder also posted the US Soccer statement on Twitter.

“I am so grateful for the support of my husband Grant Wahl’s football family and so many friends who have reached out tonight. I am in complete shock,” wrote Gounder, a former CNN contributor who served on the Biden-Harris Covid-19 transition advisory board.

Wahl had covered soccer for more than two decades, including 11 World Cups, and authored several books on the sport, according to his website. He had just celebrated his birthday earlier this week with “a great group of media friends at the World Cup,” according to a post on his official Twitter account, adding: “So grateful for everyone.”

In an episode of the Football with Grant Wahl podcast, published days before his death on December 6, he had complained of feeling unwell.

“It was getting pretty bad in terms of chest tightness, tightness and pressure. Feeling pretty hairy, bad.” Wahl told co-host Chris Wittyngham on the episode. He added that he sought help at the medical clinic in the World Cup media center, believing he had bronchitis.

He was given cough syrup and ibuprofen and felt better soon after, he said.

Wahl also said he experienced an “involuntary surrender of my body and mind” after the Dec. 3 game between the United States and the Netherlands.

“This is not my first rodeo. I’ve done eight of these on the men’s side,” he said at the time. “And so, I’ve gotten sick to some degree every tournament, and it’s just about trying to find a pleasing way to do your job.”

He further described the incident in a recent newsletter published on December 5, writing that his body had become “wrong” after little sleep, high stress and a heavy workload. She had had a cold for 10 days, which “turned into something more serious,” she wrote, adding that she felt better after getting antibiotics and getting some sleep.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the department was in “close communication” with Wahl’s family.

Wahl had made headlines in November with reports that he was arrested and briefly refused entry to a World Cup match for wearing a rainbow shirt in support of LGBTQ rights.

He said security staff had told him to change his shirt because it was “not allowed” and had taken his phone. Wahl said he was released 25 minutes after being arrested and received an apology from a FIFA representative and a senior member of the stadium’s security team.

Afterwards, Wahl told CNN that he will “probably” wear the shirt again.

Wahl’s death has sent shockwaves through the football and sports journalism community, with many tributes being shared on social media.

The co-editors-in-chief of Sports Illustrated, the publication where Wahl spent most of his career, said in a joint statement that they were “shocked and devastated by the news of Grant’s death.”

“We were proud to call him a colleague and friend for two decades; no writer in (Sports Illustrated) history has been more passionate about the sport he loved and the stories he wanted to tell,” the statement said.

He added that Wahl had first joined the publication in November 1996. He had volunteered to cover sports as a junior reporter, before it reached the peak of global popularity it now enjoys, and eventually left become “one of the most respected football authorities in the world”. world,” he said.

The statement said Wahl also worked with other media outlets, including Fox Sports. After leaving Sports Illustrated in 2020, he began publishing his podcast and newsletter.

In Philadelphia on Friday, basketball star LeBron James said he had been “really loved by Grant.” While Wahl was at Sports Illustrated, he did a cover story on James when James was in high school.

“I’ve always watched from a distance even when I came up and turned pro, and he went to a different sport,” James said in a postgame press conference. “Every time his name comes up, I’ll always think of myself as a teenager and having Grant in our building… It’s a tragic loss.”

Other current and former American soccer players, including Ali Krieger and Tony Meola, shared their condolences, as did sports bodies such as Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League.

Chris Wittyngham, the co-host of Wahl’s podcast, told CNN on Saturday that the news of his death had been hard to take.

“For Americans, Grant Wahl is the first person you read about football. He was the only person for a while…Grant was the first person who really paid genuine attention to the sport of a significant way,” Wittyngham said.

Several journalists shared stories of reporting alongside Wahl and having encountered him at various World Cups over the years.

“Before he became the best cover football, he ran hoops and was very nice to me,” wrote famed broadcaster Dick Vitale.

Timmy T. Davis, the US ambassador to Qatar, tweeted that Wahl was “a well-known and well-respected journalist who focused on the beautiful game.”



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