World Cup rocked by tragic death of American journalist Grant Wahl

Seen here, late American journalist Grant Wahl who died suddenly while covering the World Cup in Qatar.
American journalist Grant Wahl's shock death in Qatar has rocked the football world. Pic: Twitter

The football world has been rocked by the tragic and sudden death of American journalist Grant Wahl, who passed away while covering the World Cup in Qatar. He was only 48. Wahl made headlines at the start of the World Cup after revealing on social media that he'd been detained for wearing a rainbow shirt to one of the stadiums, while covering the tournament.

Initial details around the journalist's death are scarce, however, Yahoo Sports US soccer reporter Henry Bushnell was present during Argentina's quarter-final victory over the Netherlands when he observed Wahl seemingly unconscious in his press box seat at Lusail Stadium. Medics worked on Wahl for approximately 30 minutes before taking him out on a stretcher.

'INSANE': Brazil in tears after wild World Cup upset by Croatia

'RIDICULOUS': Lionel Messi dazzles amid 'insane' World Cup drama

'SHAME': Ronaldo's partner hits out after ugly World Cup controversy

Wahl was working as an independent journalist at the World Cup, and wrote a story before his death that was critical of Qatar's attitude towards the death of migrant workers. He wrote: “They just don’t care. Qatari World Cup organisers don’t even hide their apathy over migrant worker deaths, including the most recent one,” in response to the worker recently killed in a forklift accident.

The governing body of football in America, Soccer USA, confirmed the news of his tragic death on social media, with his devastated brother later claiming that foul play may have been involved after claiming that he'd received "death threats".

Late American journalist Grant Wahl (L) was detained and asked to remove a rainbow shirt before entering the stadium to watch the USA's 1-1 draw with Wales. Pic: Twitter/Getty
Late American journalist Grant Wahl (L) was detained and asked to remove a rainbow shirt before entering the stadium to watch the USA's 1-1 draw with Wales. Pic: Twitter/Getty

“The entire US Soccer family is heartbroken to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl,” the US Soccer Federation said in a statement. “Here in the United States, Grant’s passion for soccer and commitment to elevating its profile across our sporting landscape played a major role in helping to drive interest in and respect for our beautiful game. As important, Grant’s belief in the power of the game to advance human rights was, and will remain, an inspiration to all.”

Wahl's wife Céline Gounder said she was in "complete shock" after also confirming the tragedy on social media. She said the outpouring of messages she had received from family, friends and the wider football community was overwhelming.

Wahl had earlier made headlines at the World Cup after revealing he had been arrested and briefly detained while covering the tournament in Qatar, for refusing to remove a rainbow shirt he was wearing. He was eventually released by Qatari officials.

However, in a shocking twist after news of his death, Wahl's brother Erik appeared in a video message that is circulating on social media, in which he claims foul play may have been behind his brother's death. In the chilling video, Erik chokes back tears after claiming that his brother was healthy and had worn the rainbow shirt in support of him.

“My name is Eric Wahl, I live in Seattle, Washington. I am Grant Wahl’s brother. I’m gay and the reason he wore the rainbow shirt to the World Cup,” he said in the video.

“My brother was healthy. He told me he had received death threats. I do not believe my brother just died, and I just beg for any help.”

For the past two decades, Wahl was on the forefront of soccer journalism in America, first as a senior writer for Sports Illustrated before branching out as a television analyst for CBS and Fox Sports. His impact was widely felt in the United States where soccer remains a growing sport.

Wahl often wielded that influence. He once announced a bid to unseat corrupt FIFA president Sepp Blatter and was fired from Sports Illustrated in 2020 after criticising publisher CEO James Heckman's handling of pay cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Football world rocked by Grant Wahl's tragic death

Not surprisingly, his shock death has sent reverberations across the football world, with fans shocked and saddened by the tragic development. Tributes have been pouring in on social media for the 48-year-old journalist who clearly touched the lives of many.

with Yahoo Sports US

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.