Remains of soccer journalist Wahl arrives in US as second journalist dies covering World Cup
The remains of soccer journalist Grant Wahl arrived back in the United States on Monday after he died last week while covering the World Cup in Qatar.
This past weekend, a second journalist collapsed and died covering the competition.
Khalid al-Misslam, a photojournalist for Al Kass TV, “died suddenly while covering the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” the Gulf Times tweeted Saturday. An exact location and cause of death were not given.
A senior U.S. Department of State official said Wahl’s body and belongings landed at John F. Kennedy Airport at about 8:30 a.m., accompanied by a consular official from the U.S. Embassy in Doha. The consular official had been with Wahl since he collapsed and died on Friday at the Argentina-Netherlands game.
“We are traveling with Grant’s body to the medical examination & autopsy,” Wahl’s brother Eric Wahl said on Twitter, adding that he was humbled by the support provided by the airline and government agencies at the state and federal levels. “We’ve been told there are NYC police in Doha working to get more information.”
Privacy concerns prompted the State Department official to remain anonymous and hold back on any more details about Wahl, but he did say the embassy in Qatar had worked with the journalist’s family to ensure a smooth transfer.
Wahl was known throughout the soccer world for growing the sport’s popularity in the United States. He had been reporting independently since leaving Sport Illustrated in 2020 after more than 20 years.
Wahl had written about having respiratory problems during the week leading up to his death and was on antibiotics and “some heavy-duty cough syrup” for a possible case of bronchitis, he wrote on his website. He had tested negative numerous times for COVID. Global health officials have warned to be on the lookout for cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), the virus that causes “camel flu”.
The World Cup organizing committee did not state a cause of death. Eric Wahl said on Twitter a defibrillator had been on hand but “it seems possible Grant experienced a pulmonary embolism & was in a non-shockable state.”
He will be autopsied back in the U.S., his family said.
Among the many tributes pouring in after the 49-year-old journalist’s demise was one from Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“I so appreciated Grant Wahl, whose writing captured not only the essence of the beautiful game but also the world around it,” he wrote on Twitter about an hour after Wahl’s body was confirmed Stateside. “I send my deepest condolences to his family, and thank our embassy team and Qatari partners who worked together so effectively to fulfill their wishes.”