About 20 minutes before the match started, the photograph of Wahl was displayed on big screens in two corners of the stadium. An announcement about his death was made to fans who applauded him. He was reporting at his eighth World Cup.
Friend and fellow sports journalist Joe Posnanski wrote on Substack about how Wahl’s sudden death had left so many “shaken and numb”.
“There are six words you will see again and again over the coming days as so many of us try to make sense of the senseless: He was the best of us,” Posnanski wrote.
“Grant Wahl was that. As a person, he was ceaselessly kind. As a reporter, he was bursting with courage and an unerring sense of right and wrong. As a writer, he was so deeply alive. And as a friend, mostly as a friend, he was undyingly devoted and loyal. The best of us. Every way.”
A US State Department spokesman said the agency was in close communication with Wahl’s family and the officials were “engaged with senior Qatari officials to see to it that his family’s wishes are fulfilled as expeditiously as possible”.
Wahl’s wife Celine Grounder tweeted her thanks to those who had offered support after her husband’s death.
“I am so thankful for the support of my husband @GrantWahl’s soccer family & of so many friends who’ve reached out tonight,” she wrote. “I’m in complete shock.”
Gianni Infantino, president of world soccer governing body FIFA, offered condolences, saying in a statement that Wahl’s “love for football was immense and his reporting will be missed by all who follow the global game”.
His agent, Tim Scanlan, said that Wahl had “appeared to suffer some kind of acute distress in the start of extra time” at the quarter-final match.
Scanlan said attempts were made to revive Wahl in the press box before he was taken to a local hospital, where he was confirmed dead.
Wahl was one of two American journalists reportedly detained two weeks ago when they arrived to cover the USA v Wales game wearing rainbow T-shirts in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
The rainbow symbol represents support for the LGBTQ community, and homosexuality is illegal in Qatar. Wahl changed shirts and was later allowed in.
Qatar’s World Cup organisers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), paid tribute to Wahl’s “enormous love of football” and offered condolences to his family, friends and media colleagues.
Following his death, his brother, Eric Wahl, said in a post on Instagram that he believed Grant had met foul play.
“My name is Eric Wahl. I live in Seattle, Washington. I am Grant Wahl’s brother. I’m gay. 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,” Eric Wahl said in the video.
Grant Wahl was a longtime Sports Illustrated writer before going independent the past few years and selling subscriptions to his website, where he covered worldwide soccer with an extra emphasis on the US national teams and leagues. He previously was a contributor to Fox Sports’ soccer coverage.
“The entire US Soccer family is heartbroken to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl,” US Soccer wrote in a statement. “Fans of soccer and journalism of the highest quality knew we could always count on Grant to deliver insightful and entertaining stories about our game, and its major protagonists: teams, players, coaches and the many personalities that make soccer unlike any sport.”