Grant Wahl, football journalist, dies of an aortic aneurysm

Famed football journalist Grant Wahl has died of an aortic aneurysm, his widow announced Wednesday on CBS Mornings.

Wahl died on Saturday aged 49 while covering a World Cup quarter-final in Qatar between Argentina and the Netherlands.

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

“It’s just one of those things that’s probably been brewing for years,” Gounder told CBS. “And for some reason it happened then.”

Gounder posted a note on Substack with more details about his death.

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“Grant died of a ruptured, slowly growing, undetected ascending aortic aneurysm with hemopericardium,” Gounder wrote. “The chest pressure he experienced shortly before his death may have represented the first 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 in his death.”

During the match, according to the journalists present, Wahl collapsed in his seat and the medical staff on site responded quickly.

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

The US State Department said Wahl’s body and belongings were returned to the United States and arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Monday morning.

Obituary: Wahl, football journalist, dies while covering the World Cup

The sports world reacts: “It’s heartbreaking”

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

A few days before his death, Wahl wrote that he was ill and went to a medical clinic in Qatar.

“My body finally collapsed. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and a lot of work can do this to you,” Wahl wrote for his December 6 World Cup Daily newsletter. “What had been a cold for the past 10 days turned into something more serious the night of the USA-Netherlands game, and I could feel my upper chest taking on a new level of pressure. and discomfort. I didn’t have Covid (I test regularly here), but I went to the main media center medical clinic today, and they said I probably had bronchitis. They gave me a course of antibiotics and cough syrup, and I already feel a little better a few hours later. But still: No bueno.”

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

Following his death, there was a flurry of tributes and anecdotes on social media regarding Wahl’s impact on professional athletes, sports organizations, fellow journalists and longtime readers.

“We will forever cherish the gift of his life; sharing his company was our greatest love and greatest source of joy,” Gounder wrote. “Grant 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 planned and details will be announced soon.


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