Grant Wahl’s widow reveals soccer journalist died from aortic aneurysm

Renowned soccer journalist Grant Wahl died of an aortic aneurysm, his widow announced Wednesday on CBS Mornings.

Wahl died Saturday at age 49 while covering a World Cup quarterfinal match in Qatar between Argentina and the Netherlands.

Wahl’s wife Céline Gounder, an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist at New York University, said that the New York City Medical Examiner’s office performed the autopsy.

“It’s just one of those things that had been likely brewing for years,” Gounder said to CBS. ‘And for whatever reason it happened at this point in time.’

Gounder posted on note on Substack with more details surrounding his death. 

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‘Grant died from the rupture of a slowly growing, undetected ascending aortic aneurysm with hemopericardium,’ Gounder wrote. ‘The chest pressure he experienced shortly before his death may have represented the initial symptoms. No amount of CPR or shocks would have saved him. His death was unrelated to COVID. His death was unrelated to vaccination status. There was nothing nefarious about his death.’

During the game, according to journalists who were there, Wahl fell back in his seat and medical workers on the scene responded quickly. 

He was taken out of Lusail Stadium on a stretcher and transported to Hamad General Hospital in Doha, Qatar’s capital city. 

The U.S. Department of State said Wahl’s body and possessions were returned to the United States and they arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Monday morning.

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A state department spokesperson said there was no indication of foul play surrounding Wahl’s death.

Days before he died, Wahl wrote he was ill and visited a medical clinic 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,’ Wahl wrote for his World Cup Daily newsletter Dec. 6. “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. I didn’t have Covid (I test regularly here), but 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.’

Wahl, a Princeton graduate, wrote for Sports Illustrated for nearly 25 years and then started his own subscription newsletter website on Substack. He also appeared on broadcasts for Fox Sports and CBS.

Following his death, there was an outpouring of tributes and anecdotes on social media about the impact Wahl had on professional athletes, sports organizations, fellow journalists and longtime readers.

‘We will forever cherish the gift of his life; to share his company was our greatest love and source of joy,’ Gounder wrote. ‘Grant curated friends from all cultures and walks of life, for whom he was a generous listener, an enthusiast, a champion of others

Gounder said a memorial service to celebrate Wahl’s life is being planned and details will be announced soon. 

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