The death of well-known soccer reporter Grant Wahl during a World Cup match last week was due to an aortic aneurysm and not anything “nefarious,” according to his wife.
Dr. Céline Gounder wrote in a statement on Wahl’s Substack site on Dec. 14 that her husband died from “the rupture of a slowly growing, undetected ascending aortic aneurysm with hemopericardium.”
The chest pressure Wahl wrote about experiencing in the days before his death “may have represented the initial symptoms,” according to Gounder.
Wahl collapsed during a match between Argentina and the Netherlands on Dec. 9 and was attended to by paramedics and taken to the hospital.
Statements by his brother and Wahl’s criticism of Qatar’s law banning same-sex relations had led to speculation about his cause of death. His body was returned from Qatar on Dec. 12, and his wife wrote that there was nothing suspicious after an autopsy was performed by the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office.
“No amount of CPR or shocks would have saved him,” she wrote. “His death was unrelated to COVID. His death was unrelated to vaccination status. There was nothing nefarious about his death.”
Wahl had posted on his personal website last week that he had been on antibiotics after feeling sick.
“My body finally broke down on me,” he wrote. “Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and lots of work can do that to you. 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.”
An ascending aortic aneurysm is a weak spot that leads to bulging in the first part of the aorta, the body’s main artery, which can cause the blood vessel to tear or break open, according to the Cleveland Clinic. In Wahl’s case, the aneurysm was slowly growing and eventually ruptured, which killed him, his wife wrote.
Wahl’s brother, Eric Wahl, had initially posted a video on Instagram saying he believed Grant had been killed after wearing a rainbow shirt to the World Cup, but he tweeted on Dec. 13 that he no longer suspected foul play.
Gounder also shared her personal memories of Wahl, who was known as a generous colleague whose soccer coverage helped grow the popularity of the sport in the U.S. and around the world.