The quarter-final match between Argentina and the Netherlands was going on at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar at 1 pm on Saturday. American sports journalist Grant Wahl (48), who had come to cover the World Cup in Qatar, collapsed just as the game went into extra time. His death was later reported.

According to the BBC, he is a prominent football journalist in the United States. Initial reports suggest that he may have died of a heart attack. But it has not been officially confirmed yet.

The BBC also reported that Wahl was detained by Qatari authorities last month for trying to enter the stadium wearing a rainbow shirt in support of gay rights.

The US Soccer Federation expressed grief over the news of his death.

‘Fans of high-quality football and journalism knew we could always count on them to deliver insightful and entertaining stories about our game and its protagonists,’ they said in the statement.

Celine Gounder, Wahl’s wife, tweeted that he was traumatized. But his friends supported him in bad times, stayed by his side. He is grateful to them.

Wahl celebrated his 48th birthday on Thursday and unfortunately passed away the next day. He had been ill for the past 10 days and was on a course of antibiotics for suspected bronchitis, he wrote on his website earlier on Monday.

‘My body finally collapsed on me,’ she said on the website. What had been a cold for the past 10 days turned into something more serious the night of the USA-Netherlands game, and I could feel a new level of pressure and discomfort in my upper chest.

He also wrote, ‘I didn’t have covid (I get tested here regularly), but I went to the medical clinic and the main media center today. They said I probably had bronchitis.’

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said Wahl’s love for football was ‘unparalleled’. His reporting will be missed by all who follow the game worldwide.

A spokesman for the Qatari organization involved in planning the World Cup said, ‘We are deeply saddened by the death of American journalist Grant Wahl. Grant was known for his great love for football. He was in Qatar to cover the eighth FIFA World Cup of his career.’

He also said, ‘He fell ill in the media tribune at Lucille Stadium last night during the quarter final match between Argentina vs Netherlands. He was given immediate emergency treatment at the scene and continued till he was transferred by ambulance to Hamad General Hospital. We are liaising with the US Embassy and the relevant local authorities to ensure that the process of repatriation of the body goes as per the wishes of the family.’

(10th December)