American journalist Grant Wall dies after collapsing at World Cup in Qatar



CNN

Prominent American journalist Grant Wall died in a collapse in Qatar When it comes to covering the World Cup, the game has sparked shock and grief around the world.

He “collapsed” while covering the Argentina-Netherlands match on Friday, a witness told CNN.

Qatar’s World Cup organizers said Wall “fell ill” in the press area on Saturday, where he “received immediate medical treatment on site.” He was later transferred to Hamad General Hospital, said a spokesman for the Supreme Court’s Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which is responsible for planning the match.

The circumstances surrounding his death are unclear.

“The entire U.S. Soccer family is heartbroken to learn of the loss of Grant Wal,” U.S. Soccer said in a statement on its official Twitter account.

“Grant made football his life’s work and we are devastated that he and his wonderful writing will no longer be with us.”

US Soccer praised Wall’s passion and “belief in the power of sports to advance human rights” and shared its condolences with Wall’s wife, Celine Counter, and his loved ones.

Counter also posted a US Soccer report on Twitter.

“I am so grateful for the support of my husband Grant Wall’s football family and the many friends who reached out tonight. I am in complete shock,” wrote Counter, a former CNN contributor who served on the Biden-Harris transition Covid-19 advisory board.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the department was in “close communication” with Wall’s family. He said World Cup organizers were in contact with the US embassy “to ensure that the repatriation process is carried out in accordance with the wishes of the family”.

Wall has covered soccer for more than two decades, including 11 World Cups, and has written several books on the sport, according to his website.

Earlier this week she celebrated her birthday with “a great group of media friends at the World Cup,” according to a post on her official Twitter account, “Thank you all so much.”

In an episode of the podcast Football with Grand Wall, released just days before his death on December 6, he complained of feeling unwell.

“It’s gotten really bad in terms of tightness, tightness, pressure in my chest. Beautiful hair, feeling bad,” Wall told co-host Chris Whittingham in the episode. He added that he sought help at the medical clinic in the World Cup media center, believing he had bronchitis.

He was given cough syrup and ibuprofen and felt better after a while, he said.

Wall said he experienced “an involuntary surrender of my body and mind” after the USA-Netherlands game on Dec. 3.

“This is not my first rodeo. I have done eight of these on the men’s side,” he said then. “So, I’m a little sick of every match, and it’s about trying to find a way to want to do your job.”

He further described the incident in a recent newsletter published on December 5, where he wrote that his body was “broken” due to little sleep, high stress and overwork. He had a cold for 10 days that “became more severe,” he wrote, adding that he felt better after receiving antibiotics and getting some sleep.

Wall broke the news in November that he was detained and briefly denied entry to the World Cup after wearing a rainbow t-shirt in support of LGBTQ rights.

He said security staff told him to change his shirt and took away his phone because it was “not allowed”. Wall said he was released 25 minutes after being detained and apologized to a FIFA representative and a senior member of the security team at the stadium.

Later, Wall told CNN he would “probably” wear the shirt again.

Wall’s death has sent shock waves through the football and sports journalism community, with many paying tribute on social media.

“Just a few days ago, Grant was recognized by FIFA and AIPS (International Sports Press Association) for his contribution to reporting on eight consecutive FIFA World Cups,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in a statement.

The co-editors-in-chief of Sports Illustrated, the publication where Wall spent most of his career, said in a joint statement that they were “shocked and devastated by the news of Grant’s passing.”

“We’ve been proud to call him a colleague and friend for two decades — no writer in (Sports Illustrated) history has been more passionate about the sport he loved and the stories he loved to tell,” the statement said.

Wall first joined the publication in November 1996, it added. He began covering the sport as a junior reporter – before it reached the height of global popularity it now enjoys – and eventually became “one of the most respected authorities in soccer. The world,” it said.

Wall also worked with other media outlets, including Fox Sports, the statement said. After leaving Sports Illustrated in 2020, he began publishing his podcast and newsletter.

In Philadelphia on Friday, basketball star LeBron James said he “really likes Grant.” While at Sports Illustrated, Wall did a cover story about James when he was in high school.

“I’ve always watched from afar as I moved up the ranks and became a professional, and he moved on to a different sport,” James said. “Whenever his name comes up I think of myself as a young man, and it’s a sad loss to have Grant in our building.”

Current and former American soccer players, including Ali Krieger and Toni Miola, shared their condolences, as did sports organizations such as Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League.

Wittyngham, Wahl’s podcast co-host, told CNN on Saturday that the news of his death was difficult.

“For Americans, Grant Wall was the first person you covered football with. He was the only person for a while … Grant was the first person to really pay attention to the game in a meaningful way,” Whittingham said.

Many journalists have shared stories reporting with Wall, and have met him at several World Cups over the years.

“He did hoops before he became a great covering soccer player and was very kind to me,” wrote legendary broadcaster Dick Vitale.

US Ambassador to Qatar Timmy D. Davis tweeted that Wall was “a well-known and highly respected reporter who focused on the beautiful game.”

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