An American sports journalist has died while covering the World Cup in Qatar.
Grant Wahl, 48, a former Sports Illustrated reporter who later switched to podcast publisher Substack, died while covering Argentina’s game against the Netherlands.
World soccer’s governing body FIFA said the journalist, who had recently been recognized for his coverage of eight consecutive World Cups, had heard of his death with “incredulity and great sadness”.
Basketball legend LeBron James paid tribute to Mr. Val, who featured him in a 2002 Sports Illustrated cover story.
“I’m a huge fan of Grant and doing the cover photo—I was a teenager and he was doing the cover, which was a cool thing. It’s always cool to have him around,” he said.
American journalists sitting near Mr Wahl said he collapsed in his seat during overtime in a part of the stadium reserved for reporters.
They called for help and while emergency services responded quickly, they were later told Mr Wahl had died.
No further details were released about his death.
His wife, Dr Celine Gounder, thanked those who “reached out tonight” but added on Twitter: “I’m in complete shock.”
Mr Wahl said last month he was briefly detained when he tried to enter Qatar’s World Cup stadium while wearing a rainbow shirt in support of the LGBTQ community.
Same-sex relationships are illegal in Qatar.
Detained for wearing a rainbow shirt
He said on Twitter that he was detained for 25 minutes for wearing the jersey and that security guards “forcibly” took his phone and asked him to remove it before entering the stadium.
He said he declined.
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Mr Wahl also wrote on Monday that he had been to a hospital in Qatar, saying: “My body finally broke – three weeks of sleep deprivation, stress and a lot of work breaks you down.
“The cold of the past 10 days got worse on the night of the US v Holland game and I could feel the new pressure and discomfort in my upper chest.
“I don’t have COVID (I’m tested regularly here), but I went to the medical clinic in the main media center today and they said I might have bronchitis.
“They gave me a course of antibiotics and some strong cough syrup, and within a few hours I was feeling better. But still: no bueno.”
US ‘engaged with senior Qatari officials’
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted late Friday: “We are deeply saddened to learn of Grant Wahl’s death and extend our condolences to his family, with whom we have remained in close contact. connect.
“We are engaging with senior Qatari officials to ensure his family’s wishes are fulfilled as soon as possible.”
US Soccer said: “The entire US Soccer family is devastated to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl.
“Football fans and journalists of the highest quality know that we can always count on Grant to deliver insightful and entertaining stories about our game and its main protagonists: teams, players, coaches and the many things that make football unlike any sport figure.”
A spokesman for Qatar’s Supreme Delivery and Legacy Committee (SC) said: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of American journalist Grant Wahl.
“Grant, known for his enormous love of football, was in Qatar covering his eighth World Cup.”