U.S. Journalist covering World Cup soccer dies in Qatar; brother suspicious

December 10, 2022

A U.S. journalist who was covering the World Cup soccer tournament has died in Qatar while covering a match, according to officials, and his brother is suspicious that there may have been foul play. 

Grant Wahl, 48, suffered an apparent heart attack after posting on social media that he felt ill for several days prior to collapsing, according to CBS News. The cause of death is still under investigation.

Wahl said he was coughing a lot and had been diagnosed with bronchitis at a medical center in Qatar.

“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 on his podcast Thursday.“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. I think you can probably tell in my voice that I’m not 100 percent.”

Wahl was controversial

Wahl had caused controversy by wearing a pro-LGBT to the first game of the World Cup. Authorities denied him entrance to the game because of his decision, but he was later allowed to attend.

Wahl's brother Eric, who had encouraged him to wear the shirt, said his death was suspicious and that he thinks the Qataris had something to do with it.

“My name is Eric Wahl. I live in Seattle, Washington. I am Grant Wahl’s brother. I’m gay,” he said in a video posted to Instagram. “I’m the reason he wore the rainbow shirt to the World Cup. My brother was healthy. He told me he received death threats. I do not believe my brother just died. I believe he was killed. And I just beg for any help.”

While Wahl was critical of the Qatari government for its treatment of LGBT people and migrants, so were nearly all of the other independent journalists covering the games.

Widow in shock

Wahl's widow, Céline R. Gounder, is an infectious disease doctor who served on Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board transition team.

Gounder expressed "complete shock" at her husband's death and retweeted a statement from U.S. Soccer expressing that they were "heartbroken" and offering condolences to the family.

"Fans of soccer and journalism knew we could always count on Grant to deliver insightful and entertaining stories about our game," the statement read.

It also said that Wahl "played a major role in helping to drive interest and respect for our beautiful game" in the U.S.

"Grant made soccer his life's work, and we are devastated that he and his brilliant writing will no longer be with us," the statement continued.


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