Grant Wahl, the legendary soccer journalist who collapsed during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar last weekend, died of an aortic aneurysm, his widow, Dr. Celine Gounder, revealed on CBS Mornings.
Wahl, 49, had been unwell with bronchitis, but his brother Eric Wahl originally suspected foul play in his death, saying in a now-deleted Instagram video post that he was sure someone had killed his brother. Eric Wahl later expressed regret for offending the Muslim world with his remarks. Early on in the tournament, Grant Wahl had made headlines for being refused entry to a World Cup stadium for wearing a rainbow t-shirt, which his brother, who is gay, said may have been the motive. The journalist was eventually allowed in with the shirt, but posted about the disturbing experience.
After his remains were returned to the U.S., an autopsy conducted by the New York City medical examiner said the large artery that carries blood to his heart had burst. “It’s just one of those things that had been likely brewing for years,” Gounder told CBS. “I really do feel some relief in knowing what it was.”
Gounder, who is an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist at New York University, followed up on Substack. “Grant died from the rupture of a slowly growing, undetected ascending aortic aneurysm with hemopericardium,” she 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.”
According to the autopsy, Wahl had an “ascending thoracic aortic aneurysm,” which happens when the key blood vessel weakens. Symptoms often include a cough and shortness of breath, which Wahl had and doctors in Qatar attributed to bronchitis, for which he was being treated with antibiotics.
Gounder said doctors will now investigate whether Wahl suffered from Marfan syndrome, which often precedes the aneurysm, according to The New York Times. His height and stature, being tall and thin, are often associated with the syndrome.