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Witnesses recount football journalist Grant Wahl’s last moments at the World Cup

“Every once in a while you hear the stab of panic in someone’s voice and you know death and his friends are near,” London Sunday Times reporter Josh Glancy recalled of the sudden death. of Grant Wahl to the World Cup, “probably the most well-known football writer in America.

Glancy was transfixed at the time, along with a horde of other sportswriters, by Holland’s edge-of-your-seat football battle against Argentina in Doha, Qatar, early Saturday.

But then a ‘panicked voice’ shouted from the press box: ‘We need a doctor!’ Glancy told The Times on Saturday.

“We all turned to see a man in terrifying distress right behind us, clearly suffering some form of attack or seizure. We screamed for a doctor,” Glancy wrote.

World Soccer Magazine columnist Keir Radnedge also told CNN that colleagues close to him started crying out for medical assistance after Wahl, 48, collapsed. The chairs were moved to make room for Wahl so the doctors could help him, he recalled.

Doctors quickly arrived and Glancy said he was “momentarily reassured”, hoping it was just a passing attack or an allergic reaction to something. But when they began administering CPR, indicating that Wahl’s heart had stopped, the entire press gallery was “seized with anxiety,” Glancy said.

AL KHOR, QATAR – DECEMBER 10: Flowers and a photo in memory of Grant Wahl, an American sports journalist who died while reporting on the game between Argentina and the Netherlands, are placed before the quarterfinal match of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 between England and France at Al Bayt Stadium on December 10, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar. (Photo by Hector Vivas – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Hector Vivas – FIFA via Getty Images

A reporter trained in first aid and two doctors continued to take turns pumping Wahl’s chest, he said. Two New York Times reporters who were at the scene said medics performed chest compressions and other treatments for about 20 minutes before Wahl was whisked out of Doha’s iconic Lusail Stadium.

Amazingly, there was no defibrillator to use, Glancy said. “Why was there no defibrillator? It was the question we kept asking ourselves, as doctors pumped and pumped in vain,” Glancy wrote.

Wahl’s friends from different parts of the press box rallied around him. One of them, football journalist Guillem Balague, mumbled: “It’s not real.”

Eventually, Wahl, with his face covered, was taken out on a stretcher. Minutes earlier, he was laughing and tweeting excitedly about the game.

“Godspeed my friend,” Balague tweeted later. “If someone asks me what journalism is, I will say your name. Your loyalty, your sense of humor, your affection, your dress code! will never be forgotten,” he added, referring to a rainbow shirt Wahl was wearing that angered authorities in Qatar.

“You were taken from us far too soon,” added Balague. “There was still so much to write, live and discuss.”

The cause of death has not yet been determined. Wahl reportedly complained for days of not feeling well and having trouble sleeping.

Wahl was a football analyst for CBS Sports and a longtime reporter for Sports Illustrated. He was a vocal critic of Qatar and its oppression of the LGBTQ community. He posed for a photo of himself outside the United States game against Wales in a rainbow flag t-shirt – for which he was briefly detained. He said his phone was “snatched” from his hand by a guard and told to take off his shirt. Same-sex relationships are illegal in Qatar.

Family, friends, colleagues and sports fans have been devastated by Wahl’s death.

“The entire American football family is heartbroken to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl,” an unsigned official said. statement of the United States Soccer Federation. “His writing and the stories he told will live on.”

The Huffington Gt

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