The body of famous American football journalist Grant Wahl has arrived in the United States after his shock death at the World Cup in Qatarthe State Department said Monday.
The official said Wahl’s body and personal effects arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport around 8:30 a.m. ET.
They were accompanied by a consular officer from the US Embassy in Doha who had custody of Wahl’s remains shortly after he collapsed during Friday’s game between Argentina and Holland and that he later died at the age of 49.
The body of famous American football journalist Grant Wahl has arrived in the United States
Grant Wahl and his wife, Dr. Celine Gounder, in a photo from his Instagram dated 2020. The couple lived in New York with their two dogs
“American journalist Grant Wahl has been sent back to his family in the United States. We are honored to have brought him home and grateful to the government of Qatar for their cooperation and transparency in our consular process,” US Ambassador to Qatar Timmy Davis said in a tweet.
Wahl, a former Sports Illustrated sportswriter who moved to online publishing platform Substack, tweeted about the Holland-Argentina game on Friday.
His agent said Wahl “seemed to be in some kind of acute distress at the start of extra time” in the quarter-final match.
The agent said attempts were made to revive Wahl in the press box before he was taken to a local hospital, where he was confirmed dead on Friday.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Monday that an autopsy would be performed on Wahl’s remains, but there was no indication that there was foul play in his death.
Wahl’s widow, Dr. Celine R. Gounder, wanted his body taken to a medical examiner for an independent autopsy in New York, reported The New York Post.
Gounder had tweeted Friday night: “So grateful for the support of my husband @GrantWahl’s football family and so many friends who reached out to me tonight. I am completely in shock.
“I extend my deepest condolences to his family and thank our Embassy team and our Qatari partners who worked together so effectively to fulfill their wishes,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted Monday.
Wahl was a former Sports Illustrated sportswriter who moved to online platform Substack
Wahl’s widow reportedly wants his body taken to a medical examiner when he returns to the United States
Grant Wahl smiles as he holds the replica World Cup trophy during the ceremony in Doha in November
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken ‘thanked Qatari partners’ for speedy repatriation
“I so enjoyed Grant Wahl, whose writing captured not only the essence of the beautiful game, but also the world around it.”
Wahl wrote early last week that he visited a hospital in Qatar and was told by health officials he likely had bronchitis.
He had complained of breathing problems earlier in the week and had been treated for a possible case of bronchitis. Wahl fell back into his seat in a reporters’ section of Lusail Stadium during extra time, and reporters next to him called for help.
A tribute to Wahl is shown on a screen ahead of England’s quarter-final game against France on Saturday
The rescuers intervened very quickly, treated him for 20 or 30 minutes on the spot then took him out on a stretcher. The World Cup organizing committee said he was taken to Hamad General Hospital in Doha, but did not give a cause of death.
Wahl wrote for Sports Illustrated for over two decades, then launched his own website. He was a major voice informing the American public about football at a time of heightened interest after the United States hosted the 1994 World Cup.
He also took a critical look at the international sports organizing bodies.
Wahl said in late November he was briefly stopped at a security checkpoint at a World Cup stadium when he tried to enter wearing a rainbow shirt in support of the LGBTQ community. In Qatar, same-sex relations are illegal.
He said World Cup security denied him entry to the United States opener against Wales and asked him to remove his shirt.
Wahl’s brother Eric gave an update on his brother on Twitter on Sunday evening.
‘In New York now. Can update that Grant went to the hospital in an ambulance. Colleagues followed in an Uber,” he wrote. “There was no AED available on site, although it appears that wouldn’t have made a difference, if my understanding of the medical situation is correct. G returns tomorrow.
“There will be a proper autopsy here in the United States. The family will release an appropriate statement after that.
FIFA says Eric’s insistence that there was no defibrillator available is false.
A spokesperson said: “In light of the inaccurate information following the tragic events at the Lusail Stadium during the Netherlands v Argentina, FIFA would like to confirm that, in accordance with medical protocols and in accordance with the service’s report Hamad Medial Corporation ambulance service in Qatar, a defibrillator was available from the first paramedic team to respond and applied to the patient as part of their response.
“Furthermore, it has been confirmed that the patient was transferred to hospital by an emergency ambulance. Every effort was made by the medical personnel present to save his life. Our hearts go out to Grant Wahl’s family.
Eric added some strong words for the World Cup organizers and for Qatar itself.
“Regardless of the result, I have nothing to apologize for. Completely corrupt people and organizations remain completely corrupt people and organizations and must always be subject to scrutiny and accountability. This World Cup should never have taken place where it did.
He also pleaded for people to stop spreading rumors that his brother died from a bad reaction to a coronavirus vaccine.
“And please, *please* stop with the vaccine nonsense. Because that’s what it is: absolute nonsense. And it’s an insult to our family because the Grant’s wife is an epidemiologist.
Eric Wahl (right), the brother of American journalist Grant Wahl (left) who died in Qatar on Friday
A statement from FIFA President Gianni Infantino on Saturday morning said: “It is with disbelief and immense sadness that I have been informed of the passing of renowned sports journalist Grant Wahl.
“Just a few days ago, Grant was recognized by FIFA and AIPS for her contribution to reporting on eight consecutive FIFA World Cups, and her career also included appearances at several FIFA Women’s World Cups. FIFA, 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.
Wahl’s latest tweet came when he described the equalizer Holland scored against Argentina in their World Cup quarter-final match, which he was in attendance for.