US sports journalist Grant Wahl, who died suddenly while covering the World Cup in Qatar, was in good spirits and joked with colleagues minutes before his sudden death, a witness said.
Wahl, 48, died after ‘falling ill’ at Lusail Stadium in the final minutes of the fifa world cup quarter-final match between the Netherlands and Argentina on Friday, a Qatari spokesman said.
“I’m in shock. I was sitting next to him tonight. He was working on his story on his laptop, there were about 4 minutes left before the end of extra time,” journalist Rafael Cores said of the tragedy.
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Cores added, “He was laughing at a joke we saw on Twitter a few minutes earlier. I can’t believe it. My deepest condolences to Grant Wahl’s family.”
Wahl received “immediate emergency medical treatment on site,” a spokesperson for Qatar’s World Cup planning committee told Fox News Digital.
Wahl’s wife, Celine Gounder, has thanked the international football community for its concern and support following the journalist’s sudden death.
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“I am so grateful for the support of my husband Grant Wahl’s football family and so many friends who reached out to me tonight,” Gounder said. “I am completely in shock.”
Football released a statement saying “the entire American football family is heartbroken.”
“Fans of the highest quality football and journalism know that we can always count on Grant to deliver insightful and entertaining stories about our game and its main protagonists: the teams, players, coaches and the many personalities who make football different from any sport,” USA Football said. “Grant has made football his life’s work, and we are devastated that he and his brilliant writing are no longer with us.”
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Wahl’s brother Eric announced his death on Instagram and issued an emotional plea for help.
“I’m gay. I’m the reason he wore the rainbow jersey at the World Cup,” said Eric Wahl. “My brother was in good health. He told me he had received death threats. I don’t believe my brother just died. I believe he was killed, and I’m just pleading help.”
Eric Wahl referred to an incident Grant Wahl faced two weeks ago when he tried to enter the stadium for the USA-Wales game while wearing a rainbow shirt and was stopped by security.
The Qatari Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy issued a press release acknowledging Wahl’s death.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of American journalist Grant Wahl. Grant was known for his enormous love of football and was in Qatar covering his eighth FIFA World Cup,” the commission said. “He fell ill in the media box at the Lusail stadium, during last night’s quarter-final match between Argentina and the Netherlands.”
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“He received immediate emergency medical treatment at the scene, which continued as he was transferred by ambulance to Hamad General Hospital. We offer our deepest condolences to family, friends and his many close colleagues in Grant’s media.”
The committee went on to say it was cooperating with US officials to return Wahl’s body to the United States.
“We are in contact with the United States Embassy and the relevant local authorities to ensure that the process of repatriating the body is in accordance with the family’s wishes,” the statement concluded.