By Okon Ekpenyong
Grant Wahl, an American soccer journalist covering the World Cup in Qatar, has died. He has been a sports columnist for over twenty years, mainly writing about college basketball, soccer, and others. It has been one of the biggest headlines in the past 48 hours.
The writer collapsed while covering the Netherlands versus Argentina match, which took place on Friday, December 9th, in the quarterfinal. Despite the paramedic’s efforts, the 48-year-old did not survive at the hospital, and his cause of death is under investigation.
“He received immediate emergency medical treatment on site, which continued as he was transferred by ambulance to Hamad General Hospital,” FIFA said. Wahl’s wife, Celine Gounder, a medical doctor, said that “she is in complete shock.”
ESPN reported that on a recent episode of Wahl’s podcast “Futbol with Grant Wahl,” the journalist stated that he had Bronchitis.
Wahl further discussed some of the symptoms that he was experiencing. “My body told me, even after the USA went out, ‘Dude, you are not sleeping enough,’ and it rebelled on me. So I’ve had a case of Bronchitis this week,” he said. “I’ve been to the medical clinic at the media center twice now, including today. I’m feeling better today; I canceled everything I had this Thursday and napped.”
Statement from USA Soccer Federation:
Here in the United States, Grant’s passion for soccer and commitment to elevating its profile across our sporting landscape played a significant role in helping to drive interest in and respect for our beautiful game. As necessary, Grant’s belief in the power of the game to advance human rights was, and will remain, an inspiration to all. Grant made soccer his life’s work, and we are devastated that he and his brilliant writing will no longer be with us. USA Soccer sends its sincerest condolences to Grant’s wife, Dr. Celine Gounder, and all of his family members, friends, and colleagues in the media. We thank Grant for his tremendous dedication and impact on our game in the United States. His writing and the stories he told will live on forever.
Lebron James has been on Sports Illustrator’s cover numerous times; however, his first appearance was when Wahl wrote “The Chosen One,” about James’ incredible high school basketball career and how experts regarded him as the next big thing. “You had a massive impact on my family and me, and I’m so appreciative of you; a great person and journalist,” James said when he heard of Wahl’s passing.
When the Kansas Jayhawks stormed back to beat Memphis in the 2008 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion after heroic three-point shots from Mario Chamber, Wahl, a native of Kansas, wrote a beautiful cover piece called Mario’s Miracle. When England’s soccer star, David Beckham, signed on to play for Major League Soccer Franchise LA Galaxy in the summer of 2007, he became one of the biggest names to ever suit up in an MLS uniform. The legendary writer Wahl wrote yet another piece about the star who shined on the field and was a heartthrob off it.
As part of its efforts to ensure the safety of the rest of the USA Soccer Federation’s media representatives, the organization is working with Qatar and FIFA officials to ensure that mental health and grief resources are available to all.