American soccer writer Grant Wahl was honored with a tribute from FIFA on the desk where he was due to work Saturday at the World Cup quarterfinal match between France and England.
A posy of white lilies and a framed photograph of Wahl taken in Qatar was left at the media seat that had been assigned to the 49-year-old journalist who died early Saturday.
“Tonight we pay tribute to Grant Wahl at his assigned seat in Al Bayt Stadium. He should have been here,” FIFA said in a statement. “Our thoughts remain with his wife Céline, his family, and his friends at this most difficult time.”
About 20 minutes before the match started, the photograph of Wahl was displayed on big screens in two corners of the stadium. An announcement about his death was made to fans who applauded him.
Wahl fell ill while working during extra time of the Argentina-Netherlands game Friday at Lusail Stadium. He was treated by medical staff in the media tribune and later taken by ambulance to the hospital.
He was reporting at his eighth World Cup. He had written earlier in the week on his website about visiting a medical clinic in Qatar after feeling ill before saying Thursday on his podcast that he had bronchitis.
Wahl drew international attention after saying he was briefly stopped from attending the US match against Wales on Nov. 21 for wearing a rainbow-colored T-shirt in support of those who identify as LGBTQIA+, as their rights are criminalized in Qatar, a conservative Muslim nation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Memorial for Grant Wahl set up at England-France World Cup match