Cause of journalist Grant Wahl’s sudden death finally revealed: ‘It was just one of those things’

American soccer journalist Grant Wahl’s wife, Dr. Céline Gounder, appeared Wednesday on “CBS Mornings” and revealed the surprising cause of death of her husband who collapsed and passed away while covering the World Cup in Qatar last week.

(Video Credit: CBS Mornings)

According to Gounder, Wahl suffered an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm which caused his death in the press box despite efforts by EMTs for 25 minutes to revive him.

It was just one of those things that had been likely brewing for years,” she told “CBS Mornings” during the interview.

Wahl was only 48 at the time of his death and it comes as a shock to his family and friends who thought he was in good health. His brother, Eric, went so far as to accuse the Qataris of being involved in his death because he wore a pride shirt to a match and was stopped for it. He was detained for 30 minutes prior to the USA’s World Cup opener against Wales on Nov. 21 for wearing a shirt showing a soccer ball that was surrounded by a rainbow.

“My name is Eric Wahl. I live in Seattle, Washington. I am Grant Wahl’s brother. I’m gay,” he stated in a video that was posted to his Instagram account on Friday night. “I’m the reason he wore the rainbow shirt to the World Cup. My brother was healthy. He told me he received death threats. I do not believe my brother just died. I believe he was killed. And I just beg for any help.”

Monday, he walked back his claim and said he no longer suspected foul play. Eric went on to remark that “it seems possible Grant experienced a pulmonary embolism.” Later, he walked that back as well.

“I was in shock, and I just had limited information to go on,” he told the New York Post on Tuesday.

The soccer journalist fell ill in his press seat at Lusail Iconic Stadium on Friday while covering the quarterfinal match between Argentina and the Netherlands. He was pronounced dead after being transported to a nearby hospital.

The former Sports Illustrated reporter claimed that he had felt off and not well earlier in the week. Wahl visited a medical clinic twice. He said he was suffering from a severe cough in the days that led up to his death, which some studies have linked to thoracic aortic aneurysms.

“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 on Dec. 5, according to Fox News. “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 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,” he added.

Gounder published a Substack update hours after her husband passed away explaining that Wahl suffered “from the rupture of a slowly growing, undetected ascending aortic aneurysm with hemopericardium.”

“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,” she sadly added. “There was nothing nefarious about his death.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, an aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of the aorta, the major blood vessel that carries blood from the heart. They can form in both the abdomen and the chest cavity. The bulges eventually tend to burst, resulting in catastrophic internal bleeding and, many times, death.

Wahl was a loud, prominent voice that castigated the World Cup host’s treatment of migrant workers and the violation of LGBTQ rights.

The sports reporter’s body was sent back to the United States on Monday. His wife is an infectious disease physician affiliated with Bellevue Hospital. She accompanied her husband’s body to the city medical examiner.

Wahl was with Sports Illustrated for more than 20 years before being let go during the pandemic. He also contributed to CBS Sports and Fox Sports. He wrote the New York Times Best Seller “The Beckham Experiment” in 2009. He also had a newsletter called “Fútbol with Grant Wahl” on Substack as well as a podcast.

“Fans of soccer and journalism of the highest quality knew we could always count on Grant to deliver insightful and entertaining stories about our game, and its major protagonists,” US Soccer said in a statement following his death. “Grant made soccer his life’s work, and we are devastated that he and his brilliant writing will no longer be with us.”

“Grant was an incredibly empathetic, dedicated, and loving husband, brother, uncle, and son who was our greatest teammate and fan,” Gounder wrote Wednesday on Substack. “Grant had a deep respect and appreciation for his audience. He devoted his work life to earning their — your — time and respect in turn. Above all, he expressed his values through his work: his commitments to seeking truth through reporting, supporting fundamental human rights, and fighting for equality.”

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