Tributes poured in for groundbreaking US sports journalist Grant Wahl following the terrible news of his death during last night's World Cup game between Argentina and the Netherlands.
The 48-year-old, who pioneered American soccer coverage for Sports Illustrated before moving to Substack column, died of an apparent heart attack at the Lusail Stadium. Wahl, who was covering the match, collapsed during extra-time. Medics performed CPR for 20 minutes before taking him away from the scene.
U.S. Soccer Statement On The Passing Of Grant Wahl: pic.twitter.com/CBp1mCK1mQ
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) December 10, 2022
Grant Wahl's World Cup coverage began in the USA 1994. He went on to join Sports Illustrated in 1996, writing for them for over two decades. Known for charting the rise of the sport in the America, Wahl wrote The Beckham Experiment, a book on David Beckham’s time in the MLS.
He ran for the FIFA presidency in 2011 as a way to put a spotlight on the corruption that has plagued FIFA.
Tribute for Grant Wahl
NBA legend Lebron James, who spent time with Grant Wahl for a Sports Illustrated cover story, paid tribute to the late journalist during his post-game press conference.
LeBron James was asked postgame about the death of Grant Wahl. His response: pic.twitter.com/FeH9hHCTEE
— Sam DiGiovanni (@BySamDiGiovanni) December 10, 2022
"I'm very fond of Grant and having that cover shoot," said James. "Me being a teenager and him covering that, it was a pretty cool thing. It's a tragic loss. It's unfortunate to lose someone as great as he was."
Times Sport chief sportswriter Henry Winter also paid a touching tribute to Wahl saying he was "more than a colleague of ours in the press box, he was an inspiration."
A tribute to Grant Wahl. RIP. pic.twitter.com/lfjDe5E3R4
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) December 10, 2022
Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler said Wahl was "such a great champion for the world game, the game that we love, in a country that was fighting for recognition." He also spoke of the incident happening ten rows back from where Tyler was broadcasting last night.
Martin Tyler pays his respect to Journalist Grant Wahl who sadly passed away after the Argentina vs. Netherlands game last night. pic.twitter.com/1yXVmkty0z
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) December 10, 2022
His wife, Dr Celine Gounder, thanked the support of those who had "reached out tonight" on Twitter, adding that she is "in complete shock."
Until the very end, Grant Wahl was an outspoken critic of the human rights abuses that have cast such a shadow over this World Cup.
Wahl was briefly detained in Qatar after trying to enter a stadium for the USA v Wales match while wearing a rainbow shirt in support of the LGBTQ community. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar. The writer described how security guards demanded he remove his shirt while refusing to give him back his phone.
His final published piece was a robust criticism of the World Cup organisers following the death of a migrant worker from the Philippines this week. He wrote:
They just don't care. Qatari World Cup organizers don't even hide their apathy over migrant worker deaths, including the most recent one.
Our sympathies to his friends and loved ones.