On the opening day of America’s premier football league, one of its most prominent voices was mourned and honored.
Major League Soccer revealed that a spot in the league’s press box would be reserved for the late Grant Wahl following his death in December.
‘In December, the football community lost a friend and colleague, Grant Wahl,’ read a message from the MLS communications department.
‘One of football’s most recognized and revered voices, Grant’s impact on the game was immeasurable. As a tribute to Grant, MLS clubs will reserve a press box in his honor on his home debut.’
In press booths across the league, images of Wahl were placed alongside flowers, rainbow banners, memorabilia from his podcast, and cards encouraging people to share interactions with him, as well as other memories from his life that impacted others. people.
Tributes to football journalist Grant Wahl were placed in MLS press boxes like this one in Philadelphia ahead of the start of the 2023 Major League Soccer season
Wahl worked for Sports Illustrated from 1996 to 2021, covering college football and basketball, then started his own website.
He has also worked for Fox and CBS, and has written the books ‘The Beckham Experiment’, about England star David Beckham’s move to Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy, and ‘Masters of Modern Soccer’.
Wahl – an accomplished sports journalist for over 25 years – was in Qatar covering his eighth men’s World Cup and his 12th World Cup overall.
During the match, Wahl suddenly collapsed in his chair in the press box at the Lusail Iconic Stadium in Qatar.
Paramedics at the scene treated him for about half an hour before he was transported to Hamad General Hospital in Doha, where he was pronounced dead on 10 December.
An autopsy by the Medical Examiner’s Office of New York City revealed the cause of death to be a ruptured aortic aneurysm with hemopericardium, wrote his wife, Dr. Celine Gounder, in a blog post.
Earlier that week, Wahl had visited a medical clinic, complaining of chest pains. He was given cough syrup and antibiotics with the belief that he was suffering from bronchitis.
Gounder, a leading epidemiologist and professor at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, has dispelled claims that Wahl’s death had suspicious motives or was related in any way to the coronavirus.
Other tributes to Wahl were left at stadiums (top to bottom) in Atlanta, Nashville and Austin.
Wahl has spent his journalism career working for outlets such as Sports Illustrated, Fox and CBS.
Grant Wahl (seen here with his wife) Celine Gounder to be honored by the United States Soccer Hall of Fame with the Colin Jose Media Award in May
“No amount of CPR or shocks would have saved him. His death was unrelated to COVID. His death was unrelated to the vaccination status. There was nothing nefarious about his death,” she wrote.
Shortly after news broke of Wahl’s death, his brother Eric said that Grant had received death threats after he was arrested for wearing a shirt supporting the LGBTQ+ community at a match. Eric said he believed Grant was killed, a statement he later retracted.
Before the start of the games, Eric shared his feelings about starting the season without his brother.
“Starting the first MLS season without Grant is difficult for me, but he would be super excited for all the action and new developments, especially the MLS Season Pass on AppleTV+,” Eric wrote.
After Wahl’s death, Gounder shared two letters written to her by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
‘I know what it means to lose a spouse – your rock, your inspiration, your everything. I hope you find comfort in knowing that the love you had for Grant and the love he had for you will last. He is always with you,’ shared President Biden.
‘Celine, it may take many seasons, but I promise you, the day will come when the memory of Grant brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. My prayer for you is that this day will come sooner or later.’
Wahl died suddenly aged 49 of a ‘ruptured aortic aneurysm’ at the Qatar World Cup
‘Grant’s joyful spirit and compassionate heart were gifts to all whose lives he touched. His legacy will live on through you and the countless people he inspired,’ wrote Vice President Harris.
US Soccer had already honored Wahl in two friendlies played in January with a shirt on an open seat in the press box with ‘Wahl’ on it, ‘along with a framed photo and flowers.
‘There will always be a spot for Grant in every @USMNT and @USWNT home game from now until the 2026 World Cup,’ said the US Soccer Comms in a tweet.
Wahl is scheduled to be honored at the induction of the US National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco, Texas on May 6.