Grant Wahl, the respected American sports journalist best known for his reporting on football with an eye on storytelling and behind-the-scenes coverage of the rise of the sport in the United States, died at the age of 49 early Saturday in Qatar. Wahl collapsed While in the press box at Lusail Stadium during the quarter-final match between Argentina and the Netherlands, CBS News reports.
Wahl was an analyst for CBS Sports HQ throughout the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and wrote guest columns on CBS Sports focused on the United States Men’s National Team. He was also an editorial consultant for Paramount+’s football documentaries.
Wall, who was covering the World Cup finals for the eighth time, He wrote on his own personal Substack About a recent medical incident he had in Qatar.
“My body is finally breaking down. Three weeks of too little sleep, too much stress and too much work can do that to you. What was chilly the past 10 days has turned into something more serious on a US-Netherlands night,” Wahl wrote on Dec. 5. I could feel my upper chest dealing with a new level of pressure and discomfort.”
“I went to the medical clinic at the main media center today, and they said I most likely had bronchitis. They gave me a course of antibiotics and some heavy-duty cough syrup, and I actually feel a little better after just a few hours. Later. But still: no bueno.”
Wahl’s agent, Tim Scanlan, told CBS News that Wahl “appeared to have experienced some kind of acute distress in the press room” when the two teams began playing overtime. Paramedics were called to the scene and took him to a “nearby hospital”.
Wahl was born in Mission, Kansas, and graduated from Princeton University in 1996. While at Princeton, he covered the Tigers men’s soccer team that was coached by Bob Bradley, who would go on to coach the U.S. men’s soccer team a decade later.
Wahl has cemented his place in the sports industry as one of the most popular soccer reporters in the United States covering Major League Soccer, the National Women’s Soccer League and the U.S. National Teams. He has worked his way up to becoming a senior writer for Sports Illustrated covering numerous NCAA Tournaments, Olympic Games, and World Cups over the course of his career.
After the boom from David Beckham’s sudden arrival to the LA Galaxy in 2007, Wahl published his first book, The Beckham Experience, in 2009. Detailing the impact of Beckham’s move to the United States, it became a New York Times bestseller.
Walla followed with his book Masters of Modern Soccer: How the World’s Best Play the Twenty-First-Century Game, a book that gave a behind-the-scenes perspective on how elite players (Christian Pulisic and Javier Chicharito) and coaches (Roberto Martinez) strategize in and out. Field actionable in high pressure situations.
Wahl brought his daily news coverage to Substack during this World Cup tournament as he was on location for every match. He also had a popular podcast, ‘Fútbol with Grant Wahl’, providing analysis, expertise and reporting on top football news alongside co-host Chris Whittingham. On Thanksgiving Day, “Good Rivals”—a documentary series that explores the social, political, and sporting layers of the U.S.-Mexico rivalry—was launched, with Wahl as one of the producers.
While in Qatar, Wahl was honored by FIFA—along with more than 70 veteran journalists who have covered eight or more World Cups—at a special ceremony jointly held with the International Federation of Sports Press (AIPS). He was awarded a miniature FIFA World Cup trophy from two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo during a ceremony on Monday.
Wahl served as a watcher for the sport, and was integral to the rise of soccer in America, especially after the 1994 World Cup in the US and the launch of MLS in 1996. There weren’t many on-site storytellers to offer behind. – An insight into American football scenes just like Wahl’s.
In 2011, he briefly campaigned against Sepp Blatter’s presidency at FIFA in a bid to highlight changes that needed to be made to the sport’s governing body.
Wahl is survived by his wife, Celine Gunder, an American physician and medical journalist who specializes in infectious diseases and global health. She is a medical contributor to CBS News and a former member of the COVID-19 advisory board established by then-US President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team.
“The entire American football family is saddened to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl. Football fans and journalism of the highest quality knew we could always count on Grant to provide insightful and entertaining stories about our game and its key heroes: the teams, players, coaches and the many personalities that make football a reality. Football is different than any sport.Here in the US, Grant’s passion for soccer and commitment to raising its profile across our sporting landscape has played a key role in helping to grow interest in and respect for our beautiful game.Equally important, Grant’s belief in the power of the game to promote human rights has been inspiring To everyone and always will be. Grant has made football his life’s work, and we are devastated that he and his remarkable writing will no longer be with us. Football NFL sends its deepest condolences to Grant’s wife, Dr. Celine Gunder, and all of his family, friends, and colleagues in the media. We thank Grant For his tremendous dedication to and impact on our game in the U.S. His writing and the stories he told will live on.”
“Typical food guru. Problem solver. Devoted beer practitioner. Professional reader. Baconaholic.”