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Soccer writer Grant Wahl dies at World Cup match in Qatar; tributes pour in

Grant Wahl
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LUSAIL, Qatar — Grant Wahl, one of the most well-known soccer writers in the United States, died early Saturday while covering the World Cup match between Argentina and the Netherlands. He was 48.

U.S. media seated near him said Wahl fell back in his seat in a section of Lusail Stadium reserved for journalists during extra time of the game, and reporters adjacent to him called for assistance.

Emergency services workers responded very quickly, treated him for 20 or 30 minutes on the spot and then took him out on a stretcher, said Keir Radnedge, a veteran British sports journalist who was working nearby at the time.

The World Cup organizing committee said he was taken to Doha’s Hamad General Hospital, but it did not state a cause of death. “We are in touch with the US Embassy and relevant local authorities to ensure the process of repatriating the body is in accordance with the family’s wishes,” it said in a statement.

Wahl, who wrote for Sports Illustrated for a decade then started his own website, was a major voice in introducing professional soccer to an American public more used to seeing the sport as a school-level game. He also brought a critical eye to the organizational bodies of the international sport.

He “really helped put soccer on the mainstream sports map in the States,” Radnedge said.

“Grant had a strong moral compass, on where sports should be and how sport … should help set standards for people,” he said. “There was never any doubt that Grant was on the side of the good guys in wanting soccer to make the best of itself.”

Wahl was covering his eighth World Cup. He wrote Monday on his website that he had visited a medical clinic while in Qatar.

“My body finally broke down on me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and lots of work can do that to you,” Grant Wahl wrote. “What had been a cold over the last 10 days turned into something more severe on the night of the USA-Netherlands game, and I could feel my upper chest take on a new level of pressure and discomfort.”

Wahl wrote that he tested negative for COVID-19 and sought treatment for his symptoms.

“I went into the medical clinic at the main media center today, and they said I probably have bronchitis. They gave me a course of antibiotics and some heavy-duty cough syrup, and I’m already feeling a bit better just a few hours later. But still: No bueno,” he wrote.

Wahl tweeted on Wednesday that he had celebrated his birthday that day.

“We could always count on Grant to deliver insightful and entertaining stories about our game, and its major protagonists,” the U.S. Soccer Federation said in a statement. “Grant’s belief in the power of the game to advance human rights was, and will remain, an inspiration to all. Grant made soccer his life’s work, and we are devastated that he and his brilliant writing will no longer be with us.”

Wahl’s wife, Dr. Celine Gounder, tweeted that she was thankful for the support of her husband’s “soccer family” and friends who had reached out.

“I’m in complete shock,” wrote Gounder, who is an associate professor at New York University School of Medicine, an attending physician at Bellevue Hospital Center and a CBS News contributor.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a tweet that American officials were in touch with Qatari authorities “to see to it that his family’s wishes are fulfilled as expeditiously as possible.”

Wahl wore a rainbow T-shirt in support of LGBTQ rights to the United States’ World Cup opener against Wales on Nov. 21 and wrote that security refused him entry and told him to remove the shirt. Gay and lesbian sex is criminalized in Qatar, a conservative Muslim emirate.

Wahl wrote he was detained for 25 minutes at Ahmed Bin Ali stadium in Al Rayyan, then was let go by a security commander. Wahl said FIFA apologized to him.

Among Grant Wahl’s work before he began covering soccer exclusively was a Sports Illustrated cover story about LeBron James in 2002, when James was a junior at St. Vincent-St. Mary High in Akron, Ohio.

“He was always pretty cool to be around. He spent a lot of time in my hometown of Akron,” James said in Philadelphia after the Los Angeles Lakers lost in overtime to the 76ers. “Any time his name would come up, I’ll always think back to me as a teenager having Grant in our building down at St. V’s. It’s a tragic loss. It’s unfortunate to lose someone as great as he was. I wish his family the best. May he rest in paradise.”

A voter at times in FIFA’s annual awards, Grant Wahl was among 82 journalists honored last week by FIFA and the international sports press association AIPS for attending eight or more World Cups.

“His love for football was immense and his reporting will be missed by all who follow the global game,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said.

Wahl graduated from Princeton in 1996 and worked for Sports Illustrated from 1996 to 2021, known primarily for his coverage of soccer and college basketball. He then launched his own website.

Wahl also worked for Fox Sports from 2012-19.

His death at the World Cup left fellow journalists covering the games stunned.

“You come to a World Cup as a journalist to work, to share the stresses, the pressures but also the enjoyments and the fascination of it – and to share that with your readers, your listeners, your viewers. That’s what Grant was doing, that’s what he enjoyed doing. Everybody recognized that enthusiasm in him,” Radnedge said.

“So for him to not be with us anymore at such a young age, that’s an immense shock.”

World Cup Today – Latest news, analysis, reaction on 2022 World Cup in Qatar

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During the 2022 World Cup we are breaking down all the action and will be discussing all of the key storylines from Qatar.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]  

From upsets to powerhouses flexing their muscles, from the USMNT reaching the last 16 to new stars emerging and everything in-between, we have you covered.

Joe Prince-Wright, Andy Edwards and Nick Mendola will provide updates, analysis and reaction across our platforms here at NBC Sports.

[ LIVE: Watch World Cup en Espanol en Peacock

Below you can find every episode of their World Cup shows and above is the latest edition to make sure you’re up to date with everything you need.


World Cup Today – Day 14 (December 3)

World Cup Today – Day 13 (December 2)


World Cup Today – Day 12 (December 1)


World Cup Today – Day 11 (November 30)


World Cup Today – Day 10 (November 29)


World Cup Today – Day 9 (November 28)


World Cup Today – Day 8 (November 27)


World Cup Today – Day 7 (November 26)


World Cup Today – Day 6 (November 25)


World Cup Today – Day 4 (November 23)


World Cup Today – Day 3 (November 22)


World Cup Today – Day 2 (November 21)


World Cup preview show (November 17)

The Breakdown: Analysis, tactical focus on the Premier League

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Throughout the Premier League season The Breakdown provides analysis, tactical focus and a deeper dive on some of the top plays from some of the best players on the planet.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

We are back for Season 3 of the Breakdown and Joe Prince-Wright will be joining you to discuss some of the things which stood out (or may not have, initially) in the Premier League.

Click play on the video above to watch the latest episode of the Breakdown, while below is the full archive of The Breakdown.

And feel free to send in your comments and questions to JPW via his Twitter feed (click below) if you want him to select any plays which caught your eye and he will then give them the Breakdown treatment.


The Breakdown – 2022-23 Premier League season

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5 (Erling Haaland special)

Matt Turner says farewell to Revs; Arsenal fans will love him already (video)

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Matt Turner sat the bench for his final game with the New England Revolution before his transfer to Arsenal, a 2-1 victory over Minnesota on Sunday.

[ MORE: Premier League 2022-23 schedule ]

The 27-year-old, the leading contender to start for the USMNT in the World Cup, signed with New England in 2016 after he was overlooked in the Major League Soccer draft.

He spent two years on loan to lower-tier Richmond, became New England’s starter in 2018 and was voted MLS goalkeeper of the year in 2021. He agreed in February to join Arsenal when the summer transfer window opens.

Turner reflects on incredible journey, so far

“There’s definitely a lot of emotion,” Turner said. “I’m still learning how to cope with all that. On top of that, my wife’s in England nine months pregnant. So, I got a lot of stuff going on. So, maybe I wouldn’t have put my best performance out there tonight., and then I’m kicking myself because I left on a bad note.

“So again, like I said before, I think you know the way everything should have gone and emotionally, I’m happy because of the way everybody made me feel tonight. I’m sad because I’m going to miss everybody, as well. But there’s just so many other ones in between that it’s hard to really articulate.”

Already a fans favorite at Arsenal…

Addition from Pro Soccer Talk: Matt Turner was also already getting into the spirit of being an Arsenal player as he signed autographs for fans in the crowd.

One autograph hunter was wearing a Tottenham shirt as they asked for Turner to sign their Revs gear but the USMNT goalkeeper declined. Gunners fans will love that.

Djordje Petrovic was in goal for the Revolution. Turner played his last MLS game on May 28 before reporting to the U.S. for World Cup warmup matches.

“Djordje has been playing well,” Turner said. “So, grow him into the role. You don’t need to throw me into a one-off game just to say goodbye. It was a perfect night in every sense of the word, anyways, in my opinion, so it’s a results business and three points tonight. I think the correct decisions were made all across the board.”

At Arsenal, Turner figures to start as a backup to Aaron Ramsdale.

“It’ll be interesting to see how he does at the next level,” New England coach Bruce Arena said. “Not only national team, but obviously, in the Premiership. It’ll be the next challenge in his life, and he’s not backed away from any challenges to date so it’ll be interesting to see how he does.”

Bou scored the go-ahead goal in the 69th minute to give the Revolution (6-5-5) up 2-1. Dylan Borrero also scored for New England.

Emanuel Reynoso scored for United (5-7-3). United outshot the Revolution 12-9, with seven shots on goal to three for the Revolution. Petrovic saved six of seven shotsfor the Revolution. Dayne St. Clair saved one of three shots for United.

Up next for the Revolution is a matchup Sunday against the Vancouver Whitecaps on the road, while United visits Inter Miami on Saturday.

More AP MLS: https://apnews.com/hub/major-league-soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Premier League focused on helping young players from South Asian communities

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May is Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage (AAPI) Month and the Premier League is focusing on how it can continue to work alongside communities from South Asia as its popularity around the world continues to grow.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

To celebrate AAPI Month in May, we are focusing on the impact Asian players have had in the Premier League and the new initiative the league has started to help support and develop more talent from AAPI communities, particular from British South Asian communities.

Our partners in the UK at Sky Sports have a page focusing on soccer news and stories from the South Asian community in the UK.

Below are more details on the players from Asia who have already had an impact in the Premier League, plus the plans the PL has put in place to make sure many more follow in their footsteps in the future.


Celebrating the PL’s Asian stars who are leading the way

Tottenham forward Heung-min Son is the main man when it comes to Asian players having success in the Premier League and the list of superstars is plentiful if you think of Park-Ji sung, Shinji Okazaki, Maya Yoshida and Ki Sung-yueng as there have been so many stars from China, Japan and South Korea who have starred in the PL too.

But when it comes to players from South Asia there has been a lack of opportunities for young players, particularly players from the British South Asian community.

Current estimations from the UK government state that well over 5 million Asian people call the UK home. That is well over seven percent of the population but just a handful of players from British South Asian backgrounds are in the professional game.

Leicester City academy product and England U21 midfielder Hamza Choudhury is of South Asian heritage (his mother hails from Bangladesh and his father from Grenada) and he has spoken to the BBC about his trips back to Bangladesh as a youngster.

“A few of my childhood memories are of Bangladesh. Being there, just being able to do what you want,” Choudhury said. “You see kids walking around at 10 o’clock at night, not a care in the world… freedom and completely safe.

“People were definitely surprised that I could speak Bengali. I had a little afro when I was a kid, so all the kids used to find me quite interesting and run around after me. We used to go there every other year while we were growing up for two to three weeks – it was nice. Very special.

“It’s my heritage and my culture, so it’s nice. It’s really nice going back. I think it also humbles you as a kid and it shows you different parts of the world because when you grow up in England you can live in a bit of a bubble. To go there opens your eyes to see what kinds of struggles people actually go through, so it is humbling.”

The likes of Neil Taylor (Swansea, Aston Villa) and Michael Chopra (Newcastle) have also flown the flag for British South Asian communities in the Premier League in the past but there is a plan for many others to follow in their path.

Right now Manchester United and Iraq national team midfielder Zidane Iqbal, 19, is creating a name for himself at Old Trafford.

In December 2021 he became the first British-born South Asian player to make a first team appearance for Manchester United and it is hoped he’s the first of many more British-born Asian players to break through.


Premier League
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 08: Zidane Iqbal of Manchester United in action during the UEFA Champions League group F match between Manchester United and BSC Young Boys at Old Trafford on December 8, 2021 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Premier League commits to improving pathway for South Asian players

As for the Premier League itself, it is committed to helping young players find a pathway into clubs.

“The Premier League has launched the South Asian Action Plan alongside Kick It Out, to help address the underrepresentation of British South Asian players within the Academy system. The new initiative will support one of the key commitments of the League’s ongoing No Room For Racism Action Plan, to enhance player pathways and help diversify the workforce within the professional game.

“The South Asian Action Plan (SAAP) will have an initial focus on players entering the Academy system in the Under-9 to Under-11 age groups, when most boys join a club. This will include analysis and research to better understand what the current barriers to entry are for South Asian players.

“Alongside this, increasing South Asian representation within the Academy workforce will be a key component of the action taken, as well as providing equality, diversity and inclusion education sessions for existing Talent ID and recruitment professionals. The South Asian Action Plan is a long-term project which will enable us to look at and improve the diversity of everyone within the Academy system, both on and off the pitch,” said Neil Saunders, Director of Football at the Premier League.

The Premier League added: “The partnership with Kick It Out will provide us with independent diversity and inclusion expertise and enable us to further enhance connections between the Premier League and South Asian communities.”

England national team leading the charge

As for the England national team, its head coach Gareth Southgate previously told the FA (in this video) that the Three Lions are looking at ways they can help support the South Asian community and the young players within it.

“We should be looking at how we scout,” Southgate said  “Historically, there has been a sort of unconscious bias, maybe the perception that some Asian players were not as athletic, they weren’t as strong [as other players]. That is such a ridiculous generalization.

“In a lot of communities now, football is being played, in all sorts of variety of areas, so, I think [in terms of] scouting the Asian community, we’ve got to be creative in getting into the places where some of these kids might be playing. And encouraging them into broader leagues where they can be assessed more easily against other players, and then making that step into the academy system.”

Premier League
SEVILLE, SPAIN – OCTOBER 15: Gareth Southgate, Manager of England celebrates victory after the UEFA Nations League A Group Four match between Spain and England at Estadio Benito Villamarin on October 15, 2018 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)