American journalist Grant Wahl died on Friday evening while covering the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. U.S. Soccer and NPR have confirmed Wahl’s passing. Wahl was tweeting about the quarterfinals match between Argentina and Netherlands less than five hours before the news of his passing went viral on social media. Wahl was 48 years old.
Wahl was perhaps the biggest voice on soccer for American audiences. He worked at Sports Illustrated from 1996-2020 where he wrote a number of iconic cover stories, including the publication’s ‘Chosen One’ feature on LeBron James when he was a junior at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School. Wahl was fired by the company in 2020 and was covering the World Cup on his Substack while also doing work for CBS. Wahl had been writing about the brutal conditions this World Cup was being played under.
Here’s the statement from U.S. Soccer on Wahl’s passing.
News of Wahl’s death first started to spread after his brother recorded an Instagram video that has since been deleted. Wahl’s brother wrote in an Instagram comment that he collapsed at the stadium and died.
Here’s the photo of Wahl in a rainbow shirt his brother mentioned in the video. Here’s a link to Wahl’s story about being detained by World Cup security after wearing the shirt into the stadium.
Free to read: What happened when Qatar World Cup security detained me for 25 minutes for wearing a t-shirt supporting LGBTQ rights, forcibly took my phone and angrily demanded that I remove my t-shirt to enter the stadium. (I refused.) Story: https://t.co/JKpXXETDkH pic.twitter.com/HEjr0xzxU5
— Subscribe to GrantWahl.com (@GrantWahl) November 21, 2022
Wahl reportedly spoke about having bronchitis on a podcast recorded a day before his death:
On his podcast yesterday Grant complained about a bout of bronchitis but thought he was past the worst of it.
— Brody Logan (@BrodyLogan) December 10, 2022
Reaction to Wahl’s death has been pouring in on Twitter. This first tweet is from his wife, Celine Gounder.
Grant Wahl was my friend and was one of the most generous, kind, and encouraging people I knew in or out of sports media. He was such a bright presence; I never talked to him without feeling a little better about the world afterward. This is crushing. https://t.co/PexnfvmZbC
— Brian Phillips (@brianphillips) December 10, 2022
Grant Wahl was incredibly kind to me long before anyone knew who I was. His dedication to equity & fairness in the sport he loved was matched only by his adoration & support for the often thankless mission of his wife @celinegounder. I am absolutely shaken to learn of his death.
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) December 10, 2022
Generous of spirit, a peerless journalist, #grantwahl did more to inform and explain and celebrate the beautiful game than any other American. Ever. Full stop. His loss is incalculable to our profession. Prayers for his family.
— Bob Ley (@BobLeyESPN) December 10, 2022
grant was an established pro who went out of his way to help me multiple times in my career when he had no reason to. he took delight in seeing this sport grow in this country and wanted to lift those of us around him up. a horrible, horrible day for american soccer.
— Nate Scott (@aNateScott) December 10, 2022
LeBron James gave this statement on Wahl’s passing:
LeBron James offered his remembrance of journalist Grant Wahl tonight in Philadelphia. Wahl, who died at the age of 48 while covering the World Cup in Qatar, wrote the first Sports Illustrated cover story on James – “The Chosen One” – when LeBron was still a teenager. pic.twitter.com/mZIMx1TJiB
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 10, 2022
We’ll update this story as it develops.