Award-winning sports journalist Grant Wahl, known for his work with Sports Illustrated and Fox Soccer, has died after collapsing in a media forum during the Argentina-Netherlands World Cup match on Friday, US Soccer announced. He is 48 years old.
After Val collapsed, paramedics treated him for about 30 minutes before lifting him out of the stadium on a stretcher. He was pronounced dead at a Qatari hospital on Saturday morning.
The cause of death is unknown. In a statement, the U.S. Soccer Association called Wall’s work “insightful and entertaining” and praised his love for the game.
Var, who is covering his eighth World Cup, wrote on his website on Monday that he visited a medical clinic while in Qatar.
“My body finally broke down. Three weeks of sleep deprivation, stress and a lot of work can take its toll on you,” Wahl wrote. “The cold of the past 10 days got worse on the night of the US v Holland game and I could feel the new pressure and discomfort in my upper chest.”
Wahl wrote that he tested negative for COVID-19 and sought treatment.
“I went to the medical clinic in the main media center today and they said I might have bronchitis. They gave me a course of antibiotics and some strong cough syrup and I felt better in a few hours. But still: no Bueno,” he wrote.
On November 11, Wall wore a rainbow T-shirt in support of LGBTQ rights for the US World Cup opener against Wales. 21 and wrote that the security guard refused him entry and told him to take off his shirt. In the conservative Muslim country of Qatar, gay and lesbian behavior is criminalized.
Wahl wrote that he was detained for 25 minutes at the Ahmed Bin Ali stadium in Al Rayyan before being released by a security commander. Val said FIFA apologized to him.
Val has been tweeting throughout Argentina’s game with the Netherlands, his last tweet coming after the Dutch equalized towards the end of the second half. “Just an unbelievable goal from a set-piece for the Netherlands,” he wrote.
Wahl’s journalism career began as an intern at the Miami Herald in 1994; two years later, he joined Sports Illustrated, where he covered seven World Cups and 12 NCAA basketball championships. He has won four Magazine Story of the Year awards from the Basketball Writers Association of America, and his book “The Beckham Experiment” — about David Beckham’s transfer to the Galaxy — is a New York Times bestseller.
Before he started covering football specifically, Wahl wrote a Sports Illustrated cover story about LeBron James in 2002, when James was a junior at Saint Louis University. Vincent St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio.
“He’s always been cool to be around. He spends a lot of time in my hometown of Akron,” James said after the Lakers’ overtime loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday. “Whenever his name comes up, I always think of Grant as a teenager in our building in St. All the best with his family. May he rest in peace in heaven.”
Wahl is survived by his wife, Dr. Wahl. Céline Gounder, an infectious disease expert and a member of President Biden’s COVID-19 transition team.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.