Last week’s news that renowned and revered American sports journalist Grant Wahl died while covering the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar was equally unbelievable and emotional.
With a few days to remember Grant’s impact as a leading voice for American soccer as well as his personal impact on the game’s culture, we asked various members of the Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing team to put that impact into words:
John Guppy, President & Founder
“It took me about 25 minutes to write this segment. Grant would have done it in two. He had a gift for writing, and I often remarked how he could say more in 140 twitter characters than anyone else. But writing prowess is only a small component of the man, Grant Wahl. More importantly, he was a genuinely kind, thoughtful, approachable, engaging and driven individual. Our interactions came via formal interviews when I was President of the Chicago Fire, but more memorably for me, via impromptu meet ups at various soccer events and industry gatherings. These types of interactions are typically just quick head nod hellos, but with Grant, they always involved a friendly chat about some current affairs soccer topic.
One of my most vivid memories of Grant came in 2011 when he attended a national American Outlaws gathering in Las Vegas. He was running for FIFA President at the time and at one point took to the streets to “campaign”. People had no idea what was going on, of course, and to me it all felt like a little bit of a laugh. I don’t believe Grant ever thought he could actually dethrone Sepp Blatter. But make no mistake, his actions were far from a joke. He knew he had a voice, and he was committed to using it in a manner that could help influence change.
Grant was a crusader for soccer and for change. There will always be another soccer writer, but there will never be another Grant Wahl.”
Mike Koeshartanto, Marketing Manager
“It’s virtually impossible to separate Grant Wahl from the growth of soccer in this country over the past few decades.
From articles to books and podcasts to film he is every bit as important as those who kicked a ball. My intro to Grant’s writing, like many others, was the famous LeBron Sports Illustrated cover story. 2002-2009 were my peak of sports fandom and I’ve kept almost all of my SI covers from that era. Many of those issues featured Grant doing what he did best – writing about soccer’s growth.
I flipped through those stories as news started to spread on Friday and it was a wonderful walk down memory lane. It’s wild to think about how far the soccer industry has come and how far it will still go, only now without Grant’s words leading the way. RIP, Grant.”
Dillon Payne, Activation Manager
“Where would American soccer be without Grant Wahl?
His words are woven within and throughout the growth of the sport. What I loved about Grant and always found the most beneficial was that his interest and love for the sport was not discriminatory.
He wrote massive stories about David Beckham’s tenure in MLS, but he wrote with the same fervor and care about the U.S. Women’s National Team and all they have done to inspire humans across the globe.
Grant could’ve continued with Sports Illustrated as a feature writer, of which he was one of the best the publication had to offer, but he fought to become the lead Soccer Writer and continue to bring the beauty of the sport and its fandom to a wider audience than many of us could believe.
It is a testament to Grant’s work that when you think of the biggest moments in soccer in this country you think, in part of his cover stories and the words that associated them.
The sport in America owes Grant a ton for leaving a mark on all of us. Thank you, Grant!”
Adam Geigerman, Senior PR & Publishing Manager
“I met Grant Wahl when I was a young, inexperienced newspaper reporter in Laredo, Texas.
We met in the media room at the 2011 Gold Cup, and he shared an unforgettable conversation with me — applauding my courage to move from Atlanta to Laredo to grow as a journalist, adding tips and advice on my upcoming interview with USMNT superstar Clint Dempsey, and taking time to talk about the best taco in South Texas.
From then on, Grant and I crossed paths as professionals, but my best memories of him were as I raced to the mailbox for each week’s new Sports Illustrated in hopes of another feature penned by him.
I’ll miss Grant, but look forward to seeing his legacy in action as Americans continue to flourish in and around the game.”