December 11 – American journalist, Grant Wahl, 48, passed away after collapsing during the World Cup quarter-final between Argentina – the Netherlands in the press box of Lusail Stadium.
Wahl’s agent, Tim Scanlan, confirmed his passing in a phone interview on Friday night. Scanlan said that Wahl had been in the press box in the closing minutes of the match when he went into acute distress.
Eyewitnesses in the press box said paramedics were on the scene within a matter of seconds and that CPR was applied for about 20 minutes before Wahl was carried away on a stretcher. He was rushed to Hamad General Hospital, but hours later the news emerged of his death.
This was Wahl’s eighth men’s World Cup. He had previously written about health struggles during the tournament where a cold turned ‘turned into something more severe’.
“I could feel my upper chest take on a new level of pressure and discomfort,” wrote Wahl, who said that he had tested negative for the coronavirus.
“The entire US Soccer family is heartbroken to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl,” said US Soccer said in a statement on its official Twitter account. “Grant made soccer his life’s work, and we are devastated that he and his brilliant writing will no longer be with us.”
Wahl was recognised by FIFA and AIPS last week for his contribution to reporting on eight consecutive FIFA World Cups. “His love for football was immense and his reporting will be missed by all who follow the global game,” said FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
“On behalf of FIFA and the football community, we express our sincerest condolences to his wife Céline, his family, and his friends at this most difficult time.”
Earlier in the tournament, Wahl had reported that he had been detained at a World Cup match because he was wearing a rainbow t-shirt in support of LGBTQ rights.
He said security staff had told him to change his shirt because “it’s not allowed,”. Wahl said he was released 25 minutes after being detained and received apologies from a FIFA representative and a senior member of the security team at the stadium.
Wahl was a pioneer in American football journalism, covering the sport for Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and CBS. Early on, his coverage of the women’s game was also trailblazing. Wahl was a graduate of Princeton University and took his first steps in journalism as a reporter for The Daily Princetonian in the mid-90s.
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