Tributes for Grant Wahl pour in after soccer journalist’s death at World Cup

Tributes for Grant Wahl pour in after soccer journalist’s death at World Cup

Moments after it was reported that respected sports journalist Grant Wahl died while covering the World Cup in Qatar, tributes to the CBS Sports contributor began pouring in online.

Wahl, 48, was in the press box for the quarter-final between Argentina and the Netherlands when he appeared to be suffering “some kind of acute distress,” his agent, Tim Scanlan, told CBS News. Paramedics were called to the scene, Scanlan said, but were unable to revive him. The exact cause of death is not yet known.

A prolific journalist, Wahl has written for several outlets and was a CBS Sports contributor. He was an analyst on CBS Sports HQ throughout the Qatar World Cup, and wrote guest columns focused on the US Men’s National Team for CBS Sports. He was also an editorial consultant for football documentaries on Paramount+.

Grant Wahl
Grant Wahl is seen at a game between the U.S. Men’s National Team and Ecuador at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut on October 10, 2014.

Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

In 2002, Wahl got to know the then teenager LeBron James while working on a Sports Illustrated cover issue featuring James. The basketball star paid tribute to Wahl while speaking to the media on Friday.

“I really love Grant and having that cover shot,” James said, adding, “I’ve always watched from a distance. Even when I moved up the ranks and became a professional and he kind of to a different sport and things like that over the years, every time his name would come up I’d always think back to me as a teenager and Grant in our building down at St. V. So, it’s a tragic loss.”

Tennis legend and gender equality advocate Billie Jean King responded to the news by tweeting: “Heartbreaking to hear of the death of Grant Wahl. A talented journalist, Grant was an advocate for the LGBTQ community and a prominent voice for women’s soccer. He used his platform to support those whose stories needed to be told, to lift. Prayers for his family.”

Tyler Adams, captain of the US men’s national team, also tackled it Twitter to express his sympathy by writing: “On behalf of myself and the @USMNTwe express our deepest sympathy @celinegounder & all who mourn the loss of Grant Wahl. As players, we have an enormous amount of respect for the work of journalists, and Grant’s was a giant voice in football that has been tragically silenced.”

In a tweetWahl’s wife, Dr. Celine Gounder, a medical contributor for CBS News, said she was “in total shock” and thanked Wahl’s “football family” and their friends for their support.

Sports commentators and journalists have also paid tribute to Wahl’s impressive career. Senior CBS Sports writer and analyst Matt Norlander said he could not “understand” Wahl’s loss.

“It’s not computers. If he wanted to, Grant would have been THE preeminent writer in college basketball. Instead, he changed lanes and forever changed the way American football was covered and popularized. Legendary. It’s a tragedy.” he tweeted.

In a second post, he called Wahl “a great man and fearless reporter.”

“Life is fragile and there is always a reminder in it to live each moment for what it is. Don’t worry about the past or the future, take care of the now. That is the only guarantee in life.” wrote Taylor Twellman, a former American football player and media commentator.

ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas tweeted that Wahl was “everything a great journalist should aspire to, and an even better person.”

“I am devastated by the loss of Grant Wahl,” ESPN investigative reporter Don Van Natta Jr. wrote. “He was an unparalleled journalist and kind man whose coverage of football was fair … fearless.”

Several football teams also shared statements.

“The beautiful game is better because of him,” Los Angeles women’s team Angel City FC tweetedwhich recognizes Wahl for his “contribution to the soccer community, especially women’s soccer.”

DC United, the Washington soccer team, called Wahl a “passionate and dedicated champion” of the game.

The American Soccer Federation said in a statement that the “entire American football family is saddened” by Wahl’s death. “Grant’s passion for football and commitment to raising its profile across our sporting landscape has played a huge role in promoting interest and respect for our beautiful game. Equally important, Grant’s belief in the power of the game to promote human rights promoted was, and will remain, an inspiration to all.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino expressed “disbelief and immense sadness,” adding, “his love for football was immense and his reporting will be missed by all who follow the global game.”

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber tweeted that the organization was “shocked, saddened and saddened” by his passing.

The National Women’s Soccer League tweeted that it was “heartbroken” by the news, writing that Wahl’s “commitment to sharing the stories of our beautiful game was unmatched, but more importantly, his integrity, thoughtfulness and kindness were central to the way he lived.”

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