American soccer journalist Grant Wahl died Friday while covering the World Cup match between Argentina and the Netherlands. He was 48 years old.
Wahl “fell ill” while at Lusail Stadium while covering the quarterfinal match between Argentina and the Netherlands, a spokesperson for the Qatari World Cup planning committee told Fox News.
U.S. Soccer released a statement Friday night confirming the news.
“Fans of soccer and journalism of the highest quality know we could always count on Grant to deliver insightful and entertaining stories about our game, and its major protagonists: teams, players, coaches and the many personalities that make soccer unlike any sport,” U.S. Soccer said. “Grant made soccer his life’s work, and we are devastated that he and his brilliant writing will no longer be with us.”
Wahl, writing for his own website while covering the World Cup in Qatar, worked for Sports Illustrated from 1996 to 2021. He was well known for writing the Sports Illustrated cover story on LeBron James when he was still in high school.
“He spent a lot of time in my hometown of Akron covering me over the course of time before that cover story came out,” James said Friday night. “And I’ve always kind of watched from a distance. Even when I moved up in the ranks and became a professional and he kind of went to a different sports and things of that nature over the years, anytime his name would come up I would always think back to me as a teenager and having Grant in our building down at St. V.
“So, it’s a tragic loss. It’s unfortunate to lose someone as great as he was and I wish his family, like I said, my best. And may he rest in paradise.”
Tributes poured in following the news, with members of sports media and the soccer community posting to social media to remember Wahl.
“Heartbreaking,” ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas posted to Twitter. “Grant Wahl was everything a great journalist should strive to be, and an even better person. The best of us.”
On Thursday, Wahl spoke on his podcast about feeling ill while at the World Cup and having bronchitis earlier in the week.
“My body, I think, told me, even after the U.S. went out, ‘Dude, you are not sleeping enough.’ It rebelled on me,” Wahl said. “So I’ve had a case of bronchitis this week, I’ve been to the medical clinic at the media center twice now, including today. I’m feeling better today. I basically canceled everything on this Thursday that I had and napped, and I’m doing slightly better. You can probably tell in my voice that I’m not 100% here.”
Wahl had earlier been denied entry to a World Cup stadium while wearing a rainbow-colored shirt.
Wahl leaves behind his wife, Dr. Céline Gounder.