The remains of famed American soccer journalist Grant Wahl have returned to the United States.
Department of State spokesperson Ned Price confirmed that the Wahl family’s wishes were accommodated, as they worked tirelessly to get Grant and his belongings repatriated.
“Our ambassador in Doha [Qatar], Timmy Davis, has been in close and nearly constant contact with the family of Grant Wahl and Ambassador Davis has been, in turn, close and regular contact with senior officials from the Department,” Price said on Monday. “Our embassy worked nearly around the clock to help the family see to it that their wishes were fulfilled. This morning, we did confirm that Grant Wahl’s remains and his belongings were repatriated to the United States. Just as an embassy officer had accompanied Grant’s remains in Doha, an Embassy Consular officer accompanied his remains and his belongings on the flight back to the United States.
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“At this point, we will defer to the family to speak to the next steps.”
Wahl was covering the Argentina-Netherlands quarterfinal match at the 2022 FIFA World Cup when he “fell ill” in the press box, a spokesperson for the World Cup planning committee told Fox News. Paramedics attempted CPR for several minutes before bringing Wahl to Hamad General Hospital.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of the U.S. journalist Grant Wahl,” a spokesperson for the Qatari Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy said in a statement. “Grant was known for his enormous love of football and was in Qatar to cover his eighth FIFA World Cup.”
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“He fell ill in the Lusail Stadium media tribune during last night’s quarter-final match between Argentina v Netherlands,” the statement added. “He received immediate emergency medical treatment on-site, which continued as he was transferred by ambulance to Hamad General Hospital.”
Rafael Cores, a journalist who was alongside Wahl at Lusail Stadium, said Wahl had just been laughing at a Twitter joke minutes before collapsing.
Wahl’s family was in utter shock at the passing of the 48-year-old. His brother, Eric, also believed foul play was involved.
Eric Wahl said his brother was detained by Qatari authorities for wearing a rainbow shirt two weeks before he tried to attend the U.S.-Wales match. Grant Wahl wore the shirt in support of his brother, who is gay.
“I’m the reason he wore the rainbow shirt to the World Cup,” Eric Wahl stated. “My brother was healthy. He told me he received death threats. I do not believe my brother just died. I believe he was killed. And I just beg for any help.”
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Grant Wahl said of the incident, via MSNBC: “They demanded I take the shirt off. I refused. They then, right after I got a tweet off, forcibly took my cell phone and kept it for 30 minutes. I repeatedly kept asking to get it back. They wouldn't give it to me. They made me stand in front of a CCTV camera presumably with someone on the other end of it rendering some sort of judgment, and I told them this was not good for them to be doing this. Eventually, the security commander came and allowed me to go in and keep my shirt on and it went from there. They apologized, FIFA apologized and, you know, it left me wondering about what it's like for Qataris who are here outside of World Cups who are gay because this was something that I had to deal with at an event that was being covered globally.”
Wahl stated last Thursday that he was also dealing with a bout of bronchitis, saying his body “rebelled on me.” He went to a medical clinic twice for treatment.
U.S. Soccer released a statement of their own on Wahl, saying “the entire U.S. Soccer family is heartbroken.” Wahl spent years growing the game of soccer, especially in the United States, where it isn’t as popular as it is in the rest of the world.
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He spent time working for The Miami Herald, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and CBS Sports. Wahl launched the “Fútbol” newsletter this past year as well.