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Sports journalist Grant Wahl dies in Qatar amid World Cup coverage

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Posted at 9:07 PM, Dec 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-10 09:38:43-05

U.S. sports journalist Grant Wahl, 48, has died in Qatar while covering the FIFA World Cup, according to U.S. Soccer.

The sporting organization said in a statement late on Friday, "Grant made soccer his life's work, and we are devastated that he and his brilliant writing will no longer be with us. U.S. Soccer sends its sincerest condolences to Grant's wife, Dr. Celine Gounder, and all of his family members, friends and colleagues in the media. And we thank Grant for his tremendous dedication to and impact on our game in the United States. His writing and the stories he told will live on."

The circumstances around his death were not immediately clear.

FIFA representatives and the U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to media requests for more clarification surrounding his death. As CNN reported, the department did say it was in "close communication" with Wahl's family.

Federal officials were reportedly in contact with Wahl's family to ensure that his family's wishes were honored.

As NPR reported, Wahl died while in Doha covering the Argentina-Netherlands World Cup quarterfinal.

Wahl made headlines recently after reporting that he was detained and refused entry to a World Cup match, briefly, because he was wearing a shirt with rainbow colors on it in support of LGBT rights.

He reported that security staff told him to change his clothing because those colors were not allowed. He said security staff took his phone.

Wahl said he was released after 25 minutes, and FIFA representatives reportedly apologized to him, along with a senior member of the security team.

CNN reported that Wahl said he "probably" would wear the shirt again.

According to ESPN, Wahl wrote on his paid Substack newsletter on Monday, "My body finally broke down on me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and lots of work can do that to you."

He 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."

ESPN said he wrote, "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's wife Dr. Gounder responded to the news from U.S. Soccer on Twitter, writing, "I'm in complete shock."


Wahl spoke earlier this year to KSHB about possibilities for World Cup cities in 2026.

U.S. Soccer said in their statement, "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."

Wahl spoke about plans to visit France to cover the game after his time in Qatar came to an end, on his podcast "Futbol, with Grand Wahl."

In that podcast he mentioned recovering from bronchitis after multiple visits to medical professionals at the media center in Qatar, but said he was resting and recovering after taking Thursday off.

He said he witnessed many journalists with coughs. Wahl said that he wasn't hearing about many COVID-19 cases, but instead mostly general colds and coughs.