Death at the World Cup

We don’t know it was the vaxx… but it was the vaxx. Grant Wahl, the dean of American soccer journalism, is dead at 48.

Grant Wahl, a former Sports Illustrated senior writer, died Friday in Qatar while covering the 2022 World Cup. He was 48. Wahl is survived by his wife, Dr. Céline Gounder, and two dogs, Zizou (named after French soccer legend Zinedine Zidane) and Coco, who readers came to know over the years through Wahl’s coverage of the sport.

In a joint statement, SI’s co-editors in chief, Ryan Hunt and Stephen Cannella, said: “We’re shocked and devastated at the news of Grant’s passing. We were proud to call him a colleague and friend for two decades—no writer in the history of SI has been more passionate about the sport he loved and the stories he wanted to tell. Our hearts go out to Céline and his family, as well as everyone who loved his work. He will always be part of the SI family.”

Wahl spent 24 years at SI, joining in November 1996. Two years in, as a budding reporter, he volunteered to cover a growing game that few around SI’s offices cared about: soccer. He covered the World Cup in France that summer and quickly worked his way up to a senior writer for the publication in 2000. Eventually he would become one of the most respected soccer authorities in the world.

He was an excellent sportswriter, and he died with his boots on:

American sports journalist Grant Wahl, who died unexpected while covering the World Cup in Qatar, was in good spirits and joking with colleagues just minutes before his sudden death, an eyewitness said. Wahl, 48, died after he “fell ill” at the Lusail Stadium in the final minutes of the FIFA World Cup quarterfinal game between the Netherlands and Argentina Friday, a Qatari spokesperson said.

His SI colleague John Wertheim remembers him. RIP.