KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Grant Wahl, one of the world’s leading sports journalist and a Kansas City area native died Friday while covering the World Cup match between Argentina and the Netherlands in Qatar.
U.S. Soccer released a statement Friday night saying “the entire U.S. Soccer family is heartbroken to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl. Fans of soccer and journalism of the highest quality knew 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.”
The statement went on to say that Wahl’s passion for soccer and commitment to elevating its profile across the sporting landscape played a major role in helping to drive interest in and respect for “our beautiful game.”
Wahl tweeted just Thursday afternoon saying “They just don’t care. Qatari World Cup organizers don’t even hide their apathy over migrant worker deaths, including the most recent one.”
Last month, Wahl said he was detained and briefly refused entry to a match because of a “rainbow soccer ball t-shirt” he was wearing.
“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. “U.S. Soccer sends its sincerest condolences to Grant’s wife, Dr. Celine Gounder and all of his family members, friends and colleagues in the media and we thank Grant for his tremendous dedication to and impact on our game in the United States. His writing and the stories he told will live on.
The 48-year-old was born in Mission, Kansas and attended Shawnee Mission East High School and Princeton University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in politics in 1996.
He worked for Sports Illustrated from 1996 to 2021, known primarily for his coverage of soccer and college basketball, according to the Associated Press. Wahl also worked for Fox Sports from 2012-19.
Sporting Kansas City released a statement Friday night mourning the loss of Wahl. “The Kansas native was so much more than just a journalist to many. His passion for storytelling and the beautiful game made him a beloved member of the soccer community. Our thought are with his family and friends.”
Kansas City Current also released a statement Friday night saying “Words cannot describe the pain we feel tonight. We are absolutely gutted by Grant Wahl’s passing. We mourn with his family, the Kansas City community and the entire global soccer community. His impact and legacy will live on in Kansas City and with our club. He was a very special friend to us and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Wahl was covering his eighth World Cup. He wrote Monday on his website that he had visited a medical clinic while in Qatar.
“My body finally broke down on me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and lots of work can do that to you,” Wahl wrote. “What had been a cold over the last 10 days turned into something more severe on the night of the USA-Netherlands game, and I could feel my upper chest take on a new level of pressure and discomfort.”
Wahl wrote that he tested negative for COVID-19 and sought treatment for his symptoms.
“I went into the medical clinic at the main media center today, and they said I probably have bronchitis. They gave me a course of antibiotics and some heavy-duty cough syrup, and I’m already feeling a bit better just a few hours later. But still: No bueno,” he wrote.
Ned Price with the U.S. State Department tweeted “We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Grant Wahl and send our condolences to his family, with whom we have been in close communication. We are engaged with senior Qatari officials to see to it that his family’s wishes are fulfilled as expeditiously as possible.”
This is a developing story, FOX4 will continue to update as information becomes available.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.