Soccer journalist Grant Wahl died from an undetected aortic aneurysm that ruptured, his wife said in a statement Wednesday, insisting “there was nothing nefarious about his death.”
“It’s just one of these things that had been likely brewing for years, and for whatever reason, it happened at this point in time,” Wahl’s wife, Dr. Céline Gounder, said in an interview with CBS Wednesday.
Wahl, 48, fell back in his seat on Friday while covering the World Cup match between Argentina and the Netherlands. After briefly being treated at the stadium, World Cup organizers said he was taken to Doha’s Hamad General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Wahl’s body and possessions were returned to the U.S. on Monday in what his wife called “an international matter that required coordination from multiple agencies domestically and internationally.” The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office performed an autopsy and determined the cause of death.
“No amount of CPR or shocks would have saved him. His death was unrelated to COVID,” Gounder’s statement said. “His death was unrelated to vaccination status. There was nothing nefarious about his death.”
Wahl had complained of respiratory problems in the days prior to his death, and had visited a clinic in Qatar twice.
“My body finally broke down on me,” Wahl wrote on Substack. “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.”
Shortly after Wahl’s death, his brother Eric released a video saying he believed Wahl was killed for his critical coverage of the World Cup, including his focus on the deaths of migrants who helped build the event’s facilities and his support for the LGBTQ community. Wahl wore a pro-LGBTQ shirt to the stadium early in the tournament and tweeted about how he was detained.
Eric Wahl has since said he no longer suspects foul play.
Gounder’s statement mentioned her husband’s “commitments to seeking truth through reporting, supporting fundamental human rights, and fighting for equality.”
“I want people to remember him as this kind, generous person who was really dedicated to social justice,” Gounder told CBS.
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