Less than twenty-four hours ago Grant Wahl was tweeting about the thrilling Argentina-Netherlands World Cup quarterfinal match, reporting onsite just as he had done at seven previous World Cups, previously as a correspondent for CBS and FOX Sports as well as Sports Illustrated. The Dutch tied up the match with two thrilling second half goals, the second in the eleventh minute of stoppage time. The match went to extra time, one that eventually went to a shootout that saw Lionel Messi extend his charmed World Cup life yet another day as the Argentines prevailed.
Grant Wahl did not live to see that finish.
As you’d read in the New York or Los Angeles Times sports sections, Grant Wahl’s death a week after his 48th birthday was of “unknown causes”. Most sources reported the following in giving some potential context for his sudden demise, as Wikipedia recounts:
While the circumstances of Wahl’s death remain unclear, he had complained of chest discomfort and sought help at the medical clinic at the World Cup media center, where he was told that he probably had bronchitis. He was given cough syrup and antibiotics at the clinic.
Five days before his death, Wahl wrote:
“My body finally broke down on me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and lots of work can do that to you. 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. I didn’t have Covid (I test regularly here), but 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.”[41
But while Wahl was having health issues, he was still making statements. And as the International Business Times reported, some of them apparently riled the host Qataris just a tad.
Wahl was detained by security personnel for wearing a rainbow-coloured T-shirt to the Ahmad bin Ali stadium during the match between the United States and Wales.He wore the T-shirt to express solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. Wahl was initially stopped by a security guard and asked to remove his shirt. His phone was confiscated while he tried tweeting about the incident. The journalist was detained for about 25 minutes during which he was told that his rainbow-coloured T-shirt was ‘political’ in nature. Wahl posted about the incident on social media.
And as IBT also reported, earlier yesterday Wahl reported on another confrontation with Qatari officials:
A day before his death, on Friday (December 9), in his substack newsletter Wahl slammed Qatari World Cup organisers for their lack of empathy towards migrant labourers.
“They just don’t care. Qatari World Cup organizers don’t even hide their apathy over migrant worker deaths, including the most recent one,” he wrote.
The soccer journalist had criticised Nasser Al-Khater, the CEO of the Qatari Supreme Committee, for downplaying the death of a Filipino migrant worker (which was initially brushed under the carpet).
Wahl was referring to an interview with the BBC, during which Naseer said, “We’re in the middle of a World Cup, and we have a successful World Cup. And this is something that you want to talk about right now?”.
Grant’s brother was even more direct in calling out what to most objective observers should have least been in their consideration set, once again via IBT:
In an Instagram post, Eric Wahl informed that his brother Grant Wahl had received threats to his life. “I am gay. I am the reason he wore the rainbow shirt (representative of the LGBTQ+ community) to the World Cup,” he was heard as saying.
While hinting at foul play, Eric pointed out, “My brother was healthy. He told me that he received death threats.” He further emphasised, “I do not believe that my brother just died. I believe he was killed. And I just beg for any help.” Eric has since turned his account private.
One might think someone in power might at least want to investigate this. Certainly, as President Biden and Vice President Harris take their victory lap on bringing Brittney Griner home for Christmas, one might think they have enough street cred and decency to at least ask for an autopsy. As a former employee of FOX Sports, one might think a company known for seeking the truth might also be curious.
FOX Sports’ social media response was the following: