US soccer journalist Grant Wahl has died after suffering an apparent heart attack at Lusail Stadium, where he was covering the World Cup quarter-final between Argentina and the Netherlands on Friday night.
Wahl, who was a correspondent for CBS Sports and wrote a popular Substack column, was 49-years-old.
“The entire US Soccer family is heartbroken to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl,” the US Soccer Federation said in a statement. “Here in the United States, Grant’s passion for soccer and commitment to elevating its profile across our sporting landscape palyed a major role in helping to drive interest in and respect for our beautiful game. As important, Grant’s belief in the power of the game to advance human rights was, and will remain, an inspiration to all.”
Wahl was seated in the press box in the upper-most tier of the venue when he collapsed in extra time, prompting the journalists around him to remove chairs and call for medical assistance.
A team of medics arrived and began administering CPR for the next 20 minutes. After the match concluded, Wahl was taken away from the scene.
Wahl’s wife, Dr Celine Gounder, an infectious disease epidemiologist who served on Joe Biden’s coronavirus taskforce confirmed her husband’s death in a statement on Twitter.
“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,” she wrote.
Wahl made headlines earlier in the tournament when he was detained by security staff at Qatar’s Ahmad bin Ali Stadium for wearing a rainbow shirt to the United States’ World Cup opener against Wales. He said he wore the shirt as a show of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.
His brother, Eric, said Grant had received death threats in recent days and had believed he had caught bronchitis.
Wahl was perhaps the best known soccer journalist in the United States. Other writers and journalists paid tribute to him.
“Grant Wahl was my friend, one of the nicest, most truly decent people I have ever had the opportunity to work with. I am flattened,” tweeted Will Leitch, the founding editor of Deadspin.