Grant Wahl died Friday night in Qatar after collapsing during the Netherlands vs. Argentina game. Paramedics administered CPR and rushed Wahl to a hospital, but he did not make it.
Wahl, 48, worked as a sports journalist as far back as his college days, when he covered the Princeton men’s soccer team. He also met his wife, Dr. Celine Gounder, whom he married in 2001.
Wahl covered the World Cup in 1994, leading to an internship with the Miami Herald in 1996 and then Sports Illustrated later that year, where he remained for the following two decades. His beat covered men’s soccer in the U.S. as the sport gained more popularity.
He covered college basketball and soccer, which included reporting on eight World Cups over his career. He wrote over three dozen cover stories for Sports Illustrated, according to the publication’s website.
AMERICAN SOCCER JOURNALIST GRANT WAHL DIES WHILE COVERING FIFA WORLD CUP IN QATAR
His features included in-depth profiles of athletes as well as politically charged pieces, such as his initial big hit, “Where’s Daddy?” which discussed the growing number of children of unmarried athletes. He last feature was “Tear Gas and ‘Melancholia’: Argentine Can’t Let Go of Maradona,” which ran on Aug. 17, 2021.
Wahl also wrote a piece about high-school basketball phenom LeBron James, “The Chosen One,” saying that James “would be an NBA lottery pick right now.” Sports Illustrated credited Wahl with helping to “define” the publication.
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He also worked for Fox Sports and NBC Sports, as well as serving as an analyst for CBS Sports.
Wahl attempted to run for president of FIFA in 2011 but failed to receive an endorsement from any country’s soccer association. He promised to open FIFA to greater transparency if he had won.
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He eventually left Sports Illustrated in 2020 to start his own website, a Substack newsletter called “Futbol,” which he wrote for during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Veteran British sports journalist Keir Radnedge credited Wahl with helping put soccer on the “mainstream sports map in the States.”
“Grant had a strong moral compass, on where sports should be and how sport … should help set standards for people,” he said. “There was never any doubt that Grant was on the side of the good guys in wanting soccer to make the best of itself.”
QATARIS ISSUE STATEMENT DETAILING CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING AMERICAN JOURNALIST GRANT WAHL’S DEATH
Wahl made headlines two weeks before his death when Qatari security detained him outside the U.S. vs. Wales match due to a rainbow shirt he was wearing – a shirt that his brother, Eric Wahl, claimed he wore in support of gay rights.
“I’m gay. I’m the reason he wore the rainbow shirt to the World Cup,” Eric Wahl said following his brother’s death.
Grant Wahl’s final report on his newsletter detailed the abuse of migrant workers in Qatar and the lack of empathy for their deaths in the pursuit of staging the World Cup.
“Qatari World Cup organizers don’t even hide their apathy over migrant worker deaths, including the most recent one,” he wrote, referring to a Filipino migrant who had died during the tournament.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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