December 10, (THEWILL) – After learning of his passing while reporting on the World Cup in Qatar, LeBron James and many others have paid respect to Grant Wahl, a football journalist.
Wahl, who was previously employed by Sports Illustrated, where he produced a cover story on James 20 years ago, and who was a correspondent for CBS Sports in Qatar, took ill in the media tribune while watching Friday’s quarter-final match between Argentina and the Netherlands, at the Lusail Stadium.
Although no further statements concerning his demise have been released, James said: “I’m very fond of Grant and having that cover shoot – me being a teenager and him covering that, it was a pretty cool thing.
“Even when I moved up in the ranks and became a professional and he kind of went to a different sport and things of that nature over the years, anytime his name would come up I would always think back to me as a teenager and having Grant in our building down at St. V. It’s a tragic loss.
“It’s unfortunate to lose someone as great as he was and I wish his family the best. And may he rest in paradise.”
Gianni Infantino, the FIFA president also expressed his sorrow in a statement that read: “It is with disbelief and immense sadness that I have been made aware of the passing of renowned sports journalist Grant Wahl while reporting on a quarter-final match during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
“Only some days ago, Grant was recognised by FIFA and AIPS for his contribution to reporting on eight consecutive FIFA World Cups, and his career also included attendance at several FIFA Women’s World Cups, as well as a host of other international sporting events.
“His love for football was immense and his reporting will be missed by all who follow the global game. On behalf of FIFA and the football community, we express our sincerest condolences to his wife Celine, his family, and his friends at this most difficult time.”
On behalf of the football body in America, the US Soccer Federation added: “The entire US Soccer family is heartbroken to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl.
“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. Grant made soccer his life’s work, and we are devastated that he and his brilliant writing will no longer be with us.”
The reason for Wahl’s demise could be connected to what he revealed in his Substack column on Monday, where he said that he had visited a doctor in Qatar after feeling ill. He wrote: “My body finally broke down on me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and lots of work can do that to you,” he wrote.
“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 centre 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.”
Wahl caused a stir earlier in the World Cup when he was first denied entry to Ahmad bin Ali Stadium for the United States and Wales game because he was sporting a rainbow shirt. Finally, he was permitted entry to the venue.