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Wife of Grant Wahl says World Cup journalist suffered aortic aneurysm

A screenshot taken from video provided by FIFA of journalist Grant Wahl at an awards ceremony in Doha, Qatar in Nov. 2022. Wahl, one of the most well-known soccer writers in the United States, died early Saturday Dec. 10, 2022 while covering the World Cup match between Argentina and the Netherlands. (FIFA via AP)

The wife of journalist Grant Wahl, who died on Saturday while covering the World Cup in Qatar, said her husband died from an undetected aortic aneurysm. 

Céline Gounder said in a Substack post on Wednesday that the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy on Wahl and found he died from the rupture of a slow-growing aortic aneurysm, which is a bulge that occurs on the aorta

Gounder said that the chest pressure that Wahl experienced shortly before his death might have been an initial symptom. 

“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,” she said. 

Wahl was covering a match between the Netherlands and Argentina when he fell ill and could not be revived. He visited the hospital on the Monday prior to his death, but was told he likely had bronchitis and was prescribed antibiotics and cough syrup. 

Wahl, who was known for his longtime work writing for Sports Illustrated, had earlier tweeted that he had been detained and denied entry to the World Cup over his wearing a “rainbow soccer ball T-shirt” to support the LGBTQ community. 

Qatar has faced international criticism ahead of and during its hosting of the World Cup for a variety of reasons, including its policies against LGBTQ expression. 

Wahl said he would “probably” wear his shirt again after he was released and criticized Qatar’s use of migrant workers to prepare for the World Cup. 

Wahl’s brother, Eric Wahl, originally said he believed foul play may have occurred and that his brother received death threats for his coverage, but he tweeted on Wednesday that he no longer believed that was the case. 

Gounder said Wahl’s body arrived back in the United States on Monday, noting the coordination of multiple national and international agencies. 

“This continues to be a very difficult and painful time as we grieve a beloved husband, brother, and friend,” she said. “It is some comfort to know that so many people Grant reached—countless colleagues, readers, athletes, coaches, friends, and fans—are grieving alongside us.”

Tags aortic aneurysm Celine Gounder Grant Wahl Qatar World Cup

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