Death Of Journalist Grant Wahl At The World Cup Should Remind Us Of The Heinous Side Of Sports

US reporter Grant Wahl mysteriously dies covering World Cup in Qatar
(Photo by Brendan Moran - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Grant Wahl, a highly respected and well-regarded journalist, died last Friday in Qatar while covering the World Cup. Wahl was at the quarterfinal match between Argentina and the Netherlands where he collapsed, and reportedly died in a Qatari hospital. Wahl’s investigative reporting on FIFA, the Qatari government, and the shadiness behind the World Cup wasn’t popular among the powers that be and reminds us of the dirty side of sport.

How Did US Reporter Grant Wahl Die In Qatar?

Wahl wrote extensively about the corruption in FIFA, soccer’s governing body, the bribes taken in order for Qatar to secure the World Cup and the death of at least 500 migrant workers in the building of infrastructure for this event.

Early in the tournament, Wahl was detained by Qatari security for wearing a T-shirt supporting LGBTQ rights. Homosexuality and/or queer lifestyle is illegal in Qatar. Wahl’s brother Eric identifies as homosexual and posted an emotional video on social media suggesting his brother’s death was the result of foul play.


Wife Dr. Céline Gounder Shocked By Wahl Death 

Grant Wahl’s wife, Dr. Céline Gounder, said on Twitter she is in “complete shock” over her husband’s death.

Was Wahl Victim Of Foul Play?

Wahl kept up an insane work schedule while at Qatar, filing multiple stories a day and recording podcasts, among other duties. He had complained about not feeling well and Qatari medical officials suggested he might be suffering from bronchitis. He also told his agent Tim Scanlan he wasn’t doing well physically.

“He wasn’t sleeping well, and I asked him if he tried melatonin or anything like,” Scanlan said. “He said, ‘I just need to like relax for a bit.’ “

We don’t know the extent of what Wahl’s illness was nor the ultimate cause of death. According to latest reports, U.S. officials have secured the body and it is enroute to the United States for his family and so that an independent autopsy can be done.

We do know that Wahl as much as he loved soccer and championed the sport in the U.S. as its best journalist wasn’t willing to ignore its seedy and disgusting underbelly.

Global Sports Market Reaches $500B 

The global sports market has grown to a reported $501.43B. That is an absurd amount of money. Nothing, including the lives of migrant workers in a country like Qatar, is going to stand in the way of that train.

Just ask Qatar World Cup CEO Nasser Al-Khater if the death of a migrant worker matters.

“We’re in the middle of a World Cup, and we have a successful World Cup. And this is something that you want to talk about right now?” Al-Khater said when asked about the worker’s death, according to CNN. “I mean, death is a natural part of life, whether it’s at work, whether it’s in your sleep. Of course, a worker died. Our condolences go to his family. However, it’s strange that this is something that you wanted to focus on as your first question.”

Sports and events like the World Cup are fun and magical. It’s why sports captivates so many around the globe in the way it does. But there are nefarious actors using our love and obsession with sports to further their own ends at the expense of the many, including those most vulnerable.

Grant Wahl refused to bury his head in the sand and ignore the dark forces threatening to take over sports all around the world. We shouldn’t either.

Stay tuned for details on his cause of death.