Grant Wahl, one of the most critical voices with Qatar, dies while covering the World Cup

BarcelonaWhen someone who didn’t know him greeted Grant Wahl for the first time, they thought he must not know much about football, when they detected his American accent. Then it was his turn to shut his mouth, since Wahl knew everything. Born in Kansas in 1974, Wahl died this morning in Qatar after losing consciousness during extra time of the match between Argentina and the Netherlands. He was 48 years old and in the last few days he had reported that he was suffering from bronchitis, for which reason he had gone to a hospital in Doha. His brother, however, has posted a message on the networks where he reports that he does not believe he died of natural causes. “He told me he had received death threats, I think he was killed,” he explained, referring to the fact that he was one of the most critical voices against the Qatari government. In fact, during this tournament he had been arrested for 30 minutes for wearing a shirt with the colors of the LGTBI+ flag. FIFA had later apologized to him.

Born in a small town in the interior of Kansas, Wahl had studied journalism at Princeton University. And there he fell in love with football, as he was sent to chronicle the men’s college team, coached by an unknown named Bob Bradley, who would later become the best coach in the history of American football . The friendship between Wahl and Bradley allowed the journalist to accompany the coach when he went to Argentina in 1993 to learn about the local football culture. In 1994, he covered as a freelance the World Cup in the United States and ended up falling in love with a sport that was in full growth with the birth of the local professional league, MLS. After a short passage through the writing of the Miami Heraldin 1996 he was hired by the magazine Sports Illustrated, where he became a reference journalist, especially with basketball. In fact, the Association of Basketball Journalists of the United States would reward him on four occasions with the award for the best report of the year, one of which in 2002, for his work on a young college student named LeBron James. The cover of this article, which he titled as “The Chosen One” would be one of the journalistic pieces with which he would become famous. The current Lakers player remembered him upon learning of his death, citing him as an example of good journalistic practices and recalling how he spent long periods of time in Akron, the player’s hometown in Ohio, to document.

Wahl had covered five Olympic Games, eight men’s World Cups, four women’s World Cups and 12 NCAA college basketball finals, and in 2007 published the book L’experiment Beckham on the signing of the English player by the Los Angeles Galaxy of the MSL, book awarded by New York Times. One of his most controversial articles was a 1998 one titled “Where’s the Dad?” about children not recognized by professional athletes. In 2009, he was held up at gunpoint in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, before a US national team game. Wahl would be fired from Sports Illustrated in 2020 when he criticized the company’s policy of cutting wages during the pandemic. Then he was already a collaborator of the Fox chain, from which he moved away due to his political line, and left for CBS to comment on football.

In recent years he had a very successful podcast about football and collaborated with different media, and the focus of his work was being critical of FIFA and the World Cup in Qatar. In a match in the first phase he was detained by the local authorities for 30 minutes for wearing a shirt in favor of the rights of the LGBTI+ community. On his blog, Wahl explained on Monday that he had had some health problems in recent days and received treatment in Qatar for what appeared to be bronchitis. “My body has finally caved in. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and a lot of work can do that to you.” His brother Eric has posted a video in which he declares: “I’m gay. I’m the reason he wore the rainbow jersey to the World Cup. My brother was healthy. He told me that I had received death threats. I don’t think my brother just died. I think he was killed.” The United States authorities have reported that they are in charge of ensuring the return of the journalist’s body and have not said anything about the causes of death.

One of Wahl’s last jobs had been to report on the death of a worker in Qatar during the World Cup. After visiting a hospital where he had received antibiotics, he was at the stadium watching the game between Argentina and the United States. In fact, he continued to post messages on the networks until the Dutch equalizer. In overtime he felt sick and lost consciousness. Paramedics revived him and he was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Wahl had received a FIFA award a few days ago, along with the other journalists who have covered eight World Cups live.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *