By Kanishka Singh, Dan Whitcomb and Amy Tennery
WASHINGTON/DOHA (Reuters) -Grant Wahl, a U.S. sportswriter covering the soccer World Cup, died in Qatar on Friday, his family and U.S. Soccer said.
U.S. Soccer said it was “heartbroken to learn” of Wahl’s death. His wife responded to the U.S. Soccer statement on Twitter, saying she was “in complete shock”.
Wahl, a former Sports Illustrated journalist who moved to the Substack online publishing platform, had been tweeting about the Netherlands-Argentina match earlier on Friday.
FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
His agent, Tim Scanlan, told the New York Times that Wahl had gone into acute distress in the final minutes of a quarterfinal match, which he was covering from the press tribune.
Scanlan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Times, NPR and other media reported that Wahl had collapsed while covering the Argentina-Netherlands match.
Wahl said in late November he was briefly detained when he tried to enter a World Cup stadium in Qatar while wearing a rainbow shirt in support of the LGBTQ community in a country where same-sex relations are illegal.
He said World Cup security denied him entry to the United States’ opener against Wales at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan and asked him to take his shirt off.
Wahl wrote on Monday that he had visited a hospital while in Qatar.
“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,” he posted on Substack.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Twitter the department had been in close communication with Wahl’s family.
“We are engaged with senior Qatari officials to see to it that his family’s wishes are fulfilled as expeditiously as possible,” said Price.
The U.S. soccer community shared in an immediate outpouring of grief over the news.
“He was a kind and caring person whose passion for soccer and dedication to journalism were immeasurable,” Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber said in reaction to news of Wahl’s death.