Grant Wahl, one of the United States’ foremost soccer journalists, has died while covering the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
He was 48.
U.S. Soccer announced Wahl’s death Friday night:
U.S. Soccer Statement On The Passing Of Grant Wahl: pic.twitter.com/CBp1mCK1mQ
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) December 10, 2022
Wahl’s agent, Tim Scanlan, told The New York Times that Wahl was stricken in the final minutes of the Netherlands-Argentina quarterfinal match in Lusail, Qatar.
National Public Radio reported that one of its reporters “witnessed a commotion in the press tribune at Lusail Stadium” during the match. The Los Angeles Times reported that staff members witnessed Wahl receiving medical attention in the press box. NPR reported that paramedics gave Wahl CPR both in the press area and as they took him away on a stretcher. Wahl died at a hospital or en route to one, Scanlan told the Times.
“My body finally broke down on me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and lots of work can do that to you,” Wahl wrote, per the AP. “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 center 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. But still: No bueno.”
Wahl spent 24 years with Sports Illustrated, earning a reputation as an intelligent, insightful voice. He became known for a 2002 cover story on teen basketball phenom LeBron James, who was a high school junior at the time. James shared his thoughts on Wahl’s passing Friday night after the Lakers’ game vs. the 76ers.
LeBron James offered his remembrance of journalist Grant Wahl tonight in Philadelphia. Wahl, who died at the age of 48 while covering the World Cup in Qatar, wrote the first Sports Illustrated cover story on James – “The Chosen One” – when LeBron was still a teenager. pic.twitter.com/mZIMx1TJiB
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 10, 2022
Wahl’s death also prompted heartfelt tributes from many figures within the soccer community, including fellow journalists.
We are heartbroken that former Sports Illustrated senior writer Grant Wahl died while covering the World Cup in Qatar.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 10, 2022
Generous of spirit, a peerless journalist, #grantwahl did more to inform and explain and celebrate the beautiful game than any other American. Ever. Full stop. His loss is incalculable to our profession. Prayers for his family.
— Bob Ley (@BobLeyESPN) December 10, 2022
Have just woken in Doha to hear the shocking news that Grant Wahl has passed. The game in America was lucky to be served by such a brilliant journalist and , in my time covering the US men’s and women’s teams , a kind and helpful companion. I can’t quite believe this. RIP Grant.
— Ian Darke (@IanDarke) December 10, 2022
Grant and I came up through the SI ranks together. A forever kinship for those of us at the magazine back in the day. Great writer and dogged reporter, a true professional who lived for the story. #RIP https://t.co/3RvBVAATrK
— Jeff Pearlman (@jeffpearlman) December 10, 2022
— Alecko Eskandarian (@alecko11) December 10, 2022
Numb. Shocked. Devastated to hear the news about Grant Wahl. The world lost a kind human being. Met Grant as a young reporter and later had the pleasure of working with him last WC. He loved people, life and our sport. May your soul rest in peace Grant. 🙏🏻
— Tony Meola (@TMeola1) December 10, 2022
Grant Wahl was kind. Needlessly kind. I love him and I’ll miss him.
He treated me with a level of respect I didn’t deserve. He gave me an opportunity when I needed one. And most importantly he was kind. Needlessly kind
I’ll miss him. I’m devastated beyond words
— Chris Wittyngham (@ChrisWittyngham) December 10, 2022
Rest in peace to a kind soul, an intrepid reporter, and a person always willing to do more to help others. Grant embodied everything this industry should be about: decency, honesty, passion, hard work and joy. https://t.co/54bZz3RBUB
— Mirin Fader (@MirinFader) December 10, 2022
Grant Wahl was extremely kind to me when we were the only two U.S. journalists covering Euro 2004. He shared his deep knowledge of the sport enthusiastically with me that month. I never forgot his kindness — and the lesson in that for all of us. RIP.
— Steve Politi (@StevePoliti) December 10, 2022
Wahl’s wife, Céline Gounder, responded to US Soccer’s post from her personal account.
I am so thankful for the support of my husband @GrantWahl‘s soccer family & of so many friends who’ve reached out tonight.
I’m in complete shock. https://t.co/OB3IzOxGlE
— Céline Gounder, MD, ScM, FIDSA 🇺🇦 (@celinegounder) December 10, 2022
Here is the latest on Grant Wahl’s death:
Grant Wahl death updates
The U.S. State Department, through spokesman Ned Price, issued a statement late Friday.
We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Grant Wahl and send our condolences to his family, with whom we have been in close communication. We are engaged with senior Qatari officials to see to it that his family’s wishes are fulfilled as expeditiously as possible.
— Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) December 10, 2022