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KC Native Grant Wahl Dies at the World Cup

The cause of death is currently unknown.

SOCCER: OCT 10 International Friendly - Ecuador v USA Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Update 9:54 PM CT: CBS News is reporting Wahl suffered a heart attack.

Additional tweets and statements were added throughout the night.

Update 12/10/22 12:36 PM CT: Grant’s brother Eric has provided an update. Additional quotes were added to the story from Grant’s podcast on December 6th.

Late tonight, Friday, December 9th, news came out of Qatar that long-time soccer writer and Kansas City native, Grant Wahl has died in Qatar. It happened during the Netherlands versus Argentina game.

I’m stunned. Everyone is simply shocked. It seemingly has come out of nowhere. My mind immediately went to the country he was in the coverage he had been doing of their migrant workers living conditions. And of the rainbow shirt he was hassled for trying to wear into the stadium.

However, Grant himself had written that he had been sick for the last 10 days.

“My body finally broke down on me,” said Wahl. “Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and lots of work can do that to you,” Wahl wrote. “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. I didn’t have Covid (I test regularly here), but I went into the medical clinic at the main media center today, and they said I probably have bronchitis. They gave me a course of antibiotics and some heavy-duty cough syrup, and I’m already feeling a bit better just a few hours later. But still: No bueno.”

[Update 12/10/22: additional quotes from Grant’s Dec 6th podcast as transcribed by CNN.]

“It had gotten pretty bad in terms of like the tightness in my chest, tightness, pressure. Feeling pretty hairy, bad,” Wahl told co-host Chris Wittyngham in the episode. He added that he sought help at the medical clinic at the World Cup media center, believing he had bronchitis.

He was given cough syrup and ibuprofen, and felt better shortly afterward, he said.

Wahl also said he experienced an “involuntary capitulation by my body and mind” after the US-Netherlands game on December 3.

“This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve done eight of these on the men’s side,” he said at the time. “And so like, I’ve gotten sick to some extent at every tournament, and it’s just about trying to find a way to like get your work done.”

His wife, Doctor Celine Gounder, released a brief statement along with a statement from US Soccer.

His brother, who is gay and one of the reasons Wahl stated he wanted to wear his rainbow shirt, doesn’t believe that Wahl was just sick.

I can’t find the words. It’s incredibly sad. Instead, I’ll just share the words of others.

Added on 12/10/22:

Grant’s family remains in my thoughts and from those of us at The Blue Testament.