Soccer Journalist Grant Wahl’s Cause of Death Revealed

His brother had questioned his sudden death after Grant criticized World Cup host Qatar’s anti-gay policies

Grant Wahl (YouTube)

Grant Wahl, the sports journalist who died suddenly last week while covering the World Cup in Qatar, suffered a ruptured aortic aneurysm, his wife Dr. Celine Gounder said on Wednesday.

“He had an autopsy done here in New York by the New York City medical examiner’s office, and it showed that he had an aortic aneurysm that ruptured,” said Gounder, an infectious disease specialist and CBS News contributor, during an appearance on “CBS Mornings.”

An aortic aneurysm is an enlargement of the the main blood vessel. It’s most common in older men and smokers, many of whom have no symptoms and no idea that it exists. When it ruptures, it can be fatal.

“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,” Gounder said in her first interview since Wahl’s death.

In a separate statement, 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.”

Wahl’s agent, Tim Scanlan, earlier said the 48-year-old journalist “appeared to have suffered some sort of acute distress in the press room” of the stadium. Paramedics were called to the scene and administered CPR for 20 minutes, but were unable to revive him. 

“I kept on asking: Did he have a pulse?” Gounder told “CBS Mornings” host Gayle King. “If he had a pulse when he left the stadium that would have been a good sign, but no one would answer the question. And so to me — I was scared.”

Wahl made headlines on Nov. 21 after he was denied entrance to a match because he was wearing a rainbow shirt to protest the country’s oppressive policies against the LGBT community. When he tweeted about the incident, he said “one guard forcibly ripped my phone from my hands.” He was detained for nearly 30 minutes; FIFA later apologized.

His sudden death after his criticism of Qatar was met with suspicion by many, including his brother, Eric, who is gay. Eric shared an emotional video to Instagram in which he said, “I’m the reason he wore the rainbow shirt to the World Cup. He was healthy. He told me he received death threats. I do not believe my brother just died. I believe he was killed.”

Wahl, who worked for Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports and Fox Sports, had covered 11 World Cups during his career and wrote two books about soccer. He also served as a producer on the three-part Prime Video soccer documentary “Good Rivals,” which premiered on Amazon in November.