Grant Wahl dead: who was US sports journalist who died in Qatar aged 48 - who is his wife Céline Gounder?

Grant Wahl had been struggling with health issues and had bronchitis prior to his death at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

American sports journalist Grant Wahl died suddenly in Qatar on Friday whilst covering the 2022 World Cup, aged 49. Wahl had reportedly struggled with health issues during the intense tournament which saw him cover 16 days of back to back football.

Wahl’s brother questioned how his brother died and said that he suspected foul play. Wahl reported on football for more than two decades and was working at his eighth world cup when he collapsed and died in Lusail, Qatar.

Grant Wahl in 2014Grant Wahl in 2014
Grant Wahl in 2014

Who was Grant Wahl?

Grant Wahl was an American sports journalist who had worked in the field for more than 25 years. He began his journalistic career as an intern at the Miami Herald in 1996 but moved onto Sports Illustrated the same year. He worked with the magazine, covering college basketball and football, until 2020 when he was fired for criticising the CEO of the publisher for his handling of pay cuts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Wahl worked as a correspondent for Fox Sports from 2012 and after leaving Sports Illustrated he founded his own newsletter, Substack. He began working for CBS Sports in 2021, covering football in North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Over his career, Wahl covered 12 NCAA basketball tournaments, eight FIFA men’s World Cups, four FIFA Women’s World Cups, and five Olympic games. During the Qatar World Cup he was detained outside a stadium along with a New York Times reporter, for wearing a T-shirt with a rainbow pattern on it.

How did Grant Wahl die?

An official cause of death has not yet been confirmed, although The Guardian reported that he died following an apparent heart attack. Wahl had been suffering with health problems during the World Cup. He said on his podcast, Futbol with Grant Wahl: “My body told me, even after the US went out, dude you are not sleeping enough and it rebelled on me.

“So I’ve had a case of bronchitis this week. I’ve been to the medical clinic at the media centre twice now, including today. I’m feeling better today. I basically cancelled everything on this Thursday that I had and napped.”

Wahl also wrote about his ill health in his newsletter, stating: “My body finally broke down on me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and lots of work can do that to you … What had been a cold over the last 10 days turned into something more severe on the night of the USA-Netherlands game, and I could feel my upper chest take on a new level of pressure and discomfort.”

Grant Wahl and his wife Céline Gounder (L) with two others at a world cup event in 2014Grant Wahl and his wife Céline Gounder (L) with two others at a world cup event in 2014
Grant Wahl and his wife Céline Gounder (L) with two others at a world cup event in 2014

Wahl collapsed in the press box at the Lusail stadium during the Netherlands vs Argentina game in extra time on Friday 9 December. Medics were called and administered CPR on Wahl for 20 minutes, but he passed away that day.

Wahl’s brother Eric, who is gay, spoke on Instagram about his brother’s death. He said: “I’m the reason he wore the rainbow shirt to the World Cup. 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.”

Who is Grant Wahl’s wife Céline Gounder?

Wahl married Céline Gounder in 2001 - the pair met at Princeton University, and they lived together with their two dogs in New York City. Gounder is an infectious diseases specialist and has published articles in The Atlantic and The New Yorker. In 2020 she became a member of the COVID-19 Advisory Board of the then US president-elect Joe Biden.

Following her husband’s death, Gounder tweeted: “I am so thankful for the support of my husband GrantWahl’s soccer family & of so many friends who’ve reached out tonight. I’m in complete shock.”

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