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The Late Grant Wahl: An American Soccer Journalist for the People

Grant Wahl, the world-renowned American soccer journalist, died unexpectedly this year at the World Cup in Qatar during the quarterfinals. The journalist collapsed at the press tribune in Qatar and later died in the hospital of an aortic aneurysm.

After rumors swirled that his death was related to covid-19 or potential foul play, his wife took to her blog to put the rumors to bed. She also went on to pay tribute to her late husband, “While the world knew Grant as a great journalist, we knew him as a man who approached the world with openness and love,” his wife wrote. “Grant was an incredibly empathetic, dedicated, and loving husband, brother, uncle, and son who was our greatest teammate and fan. We will forever cherish the gift of his life; to share his company was our greatest love and source of joy.”

In an article about his life, a Los Angeles Times writer compared Grant Wahl’s life and legacy to that of Anthony Bourdain. From his perspective, like the great Anthony Bourdain, Grant Wahl used soccer to connect with people and inform his readers about the greater world. Wahl continuously used his voice to stand up against injustices in the soccer world and reveal its various corruptions and inequalities. Ultimately, soccer’s undiscriminating universality made it the perfect lens for Wahl to analyze the world around him for his readers’ delight. 

He began soccer journalism when the sport remained relatively unpopular in the states. While paving the way for American soccer journalism, he covered women’s soccer in the United States with respect rare for his time. Before the World Cup, he traveled to Doha to interview the migrant workers about the human rights abuses they faced while working on the Qatari infrastructure. Later, when he arrived in Qatar, he made it clear the Qatari government was watching him. He even traveled to Ramallah, where no other American sports journalist had gone before to cover Palestine’s soccer team. 

These stories are not one-offs but, instead, bits of evidence from his life that prove that, above all, he was dedicated to uplifting the voices of those he came into contact with. 

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