The Tragic Death Of Soccer Journalist Grant Wahl

American sports journalist Grant Wahl, best known for his long-term career with Sports Illustrated, has died at age 49. The United States soccer team confirmed Wahl's passing in a heartwarming tribute to the late sports anchor. "The entire U.S. Soccer family is heartbroken to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl... US soccer sends its sincerest condolences to Grant's wife Dr. Celine Gounder and all of his family members, friends, and colleagues in the media," the team shared on Twitter.

Wahl died in Qatar, where he had been covering the ongoing 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament. Per Los Angeles Times, Wahl was covering the Argentina-Netherland quarter-final game when he suddenly collapsed. "He received immediate emergency medical treatment on site, which continued as he was transferred by ambulance to Hamad General Hospital," Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, explained, according to the Wall Street Journal. He was later pronounced dead at the Qatari hospital.

The famed journalist's tragic death came shortly after passing commentary on the Argentina-Netherlands game via Twitter. "What just happened?" he wrote in a tweet. "Just an incredibly designed set-piece goal by the Netherlands," a second tweet read. While his sudden death has left many shocked, Wahl made surprising revelations about his health only one day earlier.

Grant Wahl was diagnosed with bronchitis

During a December 8 episode of his podcast, "Futbol with Grant Wahl," the sports journalist revealed he recently suffered a bout of bronchitis. "I've been to the medical clinic at the media center twice now including today [Thursday]," Wahl explained. "I'm feeling better today. I basically canceled everything on this Thursday that I had and napped." But even though he was feeling better, Wahl noted he was still not completely himself. In an interview with The New York Times, Wahl's agent Tim Scanlan revealed the longtime journalist had trouble sleeping in the days leading up to his death. "He wasn't sleeping well, and I asked him if he tried melatonin or anything like," Scanlan told the outlet. "He said, 'I just need to like relax for a bit.'"

Despite the prior health trouble, however, Wahl's brother Eric has raised suspicion about the sports journalist's sudden death. "My brother was healthy, he told me he received death threats," Eric said in a since-deleted Instagram video (via People). "I do not believe my brother just died. I believe he was killed, and I just beg for any help."

Though an autopsy has yet to be released, Eric's claim has stirred up a debate among social media users over the most probable cause of death. "Grant Wahl died because of natural causes. No one killed him," one person wrote, before adding that natural deaths are "normal and happen all the time." Seemingly agreeing with Eric, another person tweeted, "Grant Wahl was murdered. No two ways about it. That man was killed." But of course, this is not the first time Want has sparked conversation in recent times.

Grant Wahl stood up for a great cause in Qatar

In the earliest days of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Grant Wahl took to Twitter to share a photo of himself in an LGBTQ-inspired t-shirt. "Just now: Security guard refusing to let me into the stadium for USA-Wales. 'You have to change your shirt. It's not allowed,'" Wahl tweeted. As a recap, host country Qatar, famous for its anti-LGBTQ laws, banned players and visitors from sporting rainbow-colored merchandise in a bid to uphold its policies amid the tournament. Therefore, by choosing to wear a pro-LGBTQ shirt, Wahl was seemingly flouting the law. This apparently resulted in his detainment. 

Detailing the experience on his website, Wahl explained that his cellphone was seized by security guards who questioned him while refusing to give it back. "One of the security guards told me they were just trying to protect me from fans inside who could harm me for wearing the shirt," he wrote. Even after his release, Wahl insisted on wearing his gay pride shirt. "I'm OK, but that was an unnecessary ordeal. Am in the media center, still wearing my shirt. Was detained for nearly half an hour. Go gays," he wrote in a tweet

Wahl's decision to promote gay rights even in Qatar earned him praise and accolades from several social media users. "Obviously a huge loss to football but it's broader than that. Wahl truly fought the good fight and stood up for what is right and that is really admirable," one person tweeted. A second fan commented, "Grant Wahl was a great man. Stood up for what he believed in and tried to make the world a better place."