who has covered soccer for Sports Illustrated for more than two decades, was fired on Friday.
In a tweet
Friday afternoon, he said, "Maven just fired me from Sports Illustrated. No severance. Nothing."
Wahl is the country's most visible soccer writer, breaking many major stories during his
more than 23 years with SI. He was a frequent contributor on Fox Sports' soccer coverage and the author of The Beckham Experiment, the first soccer book to become a New York Times bestseller.
He graduated from Princeton University and joined Sports Illustrated in 1996. He won four Magazine Story of the Year awards for his coverage of college basketball before shifting to work solely
SI has been sold sold twice in the last two years. Meredith acquired Sports Illustrated in January 2018 from Time and sold it to Authentic Brands Group in June 2019. Authentic
Brands Group turned around and licensed SI’s print and digital publishing rights to Maven, a digital media company, under a 10-year licensing agreement.
Maven instituted layoffs of
employees at the magazine and online site in October 2019 and six more last week. Many of the magazine's famous names previously left.
The Maven introduced a “team network” of
hubs grouped around pro and college teams whose online content is produced by freelancers and cut its famous magazine's frequency to monthly. The Maven's CEO, James Heckman
, started similar
online sports sites at Rivals.com and Scout.com over the last two decades.
Wahl's firing came four days after criticizing Heckman for his handling of pay-cuts during the coronavirus
pandemic. In posts on social media later taken down, Wahl said his salary was reduced 30 percent during the Pandemic and Maven was trying to make the cut permanent. "Who would take advantage of a
pandemic to permanently reduce someone's salary beyond that pandemic? Maven and James Heckman would."
Heckman responded by sending out a staff memo on Friday, criticizing Wahl for not
agreeing to a permanent cut in pay and minimizing his contributions.
"Every senior staff member volunteered to put their personal budgeted future at risk, to save jobs and ensure stable
salaries for those making less," Heckman wrote in a memo to SI staff. "Everyone, that is, but one person. That person made $350,000 last year to infrequently write stories that generated little
meaningful viewership or revenue."
Wahl refuted Heckman's version of the facts.
Wahl's recent work at SI's Planet Futbol included stories on Jermaine Jones
, Carli Lloyd
and Bob Bradley
Later in the day, the Sports Illustrated Union, which Maven has yet to voluntarily recognize, issued a statement in support of Wahl, blasting Heckman for smearing Wahl.
Photo by Marina Zarya.