The face of US soccer journalism has died while covering the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
CBS Sports contributor Grant Wahl, formerly of Sports Illustrated, died on Friday while covering the Netherlands-Argentina quarterfinal game in Doha, Qatar.
An official cause of death was not immediately known, though Wahl had recently reported feeling unwell.
On Monday, he wrote that he had visited a medical clinic in Qatar for what he initially thought was a cold but had intensified into something worse:
“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.
Wahl's wife, Dr. Celine Gounder, took to Twitter to thank friends for their support and said she was "in complete shock."
Wahl was an advocate for human rights, and had been publicly critical of the Qatari government's anti-LGBTQ laws and the reported deaths of tens if not hundreds of migrant workers who helped build the infrastructure for the World Cup.
Last month, Wahl was briefly detained and interrogated for wearing a shirt that bore the LGBTQ Pride rainbow to the USA-Wales game during the group stages.
Grant's brother Eric Wahl suggested Grant was the victim of foul play, saying on social media that "I believe he was killed" and claiming Grant had received death threats for wearing the Pride shirt.
In an emotional Instagram post, Eric Wahl said, "I'm Grant Wahl's brother. I'm gay. I'm the reason he wore the rainbow shirt to the World Cup. My brother was healthy. He told me received death threats. I do not believe my brother just died. I believe he was killed, and I just beg for any help."
US Soccer also confirmed Wahl's death. In statement, the organization said it was "heartbroken" and that Wahl had "played a major role in helping to drive interest in and respect for our beautiful game." The statement did not address the manner of Wahl's death.
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