Grant Wahl’s wife reveals his cause of death: 'Nothing nefarious'

Sports writer Grant Wahl’s wife has revealed what led to his death while he was covering the World Cup last week.

Dr. Céline Gounder, Wahl’s wife and a contributor for CBS News, told the network that Wahl suffered a ruptured aortic aneurysm.

"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," she said.

Gounder also offered more details in a lengthy, heartfelt post on her husband's popular blog.

Wahl, an American journalist who helped grow the popularity of soccer in the United States and reported on some of the biggest stories in the sport, died Friday after collapsing at the World Cup in Qatar. He was 49.

RELATED: American soccer journalist Grant Wahl 'laughing at a joke' on Twitter minutes before collapse, witness says

Wahl had complained of respiratory problems earlier in the week and had been treated for a possible case of bronchitis, then fell back in his seat in a section of Lusail Stadium reserved for journalists during extra time of the game, and reporters adjacent to him called for assistance.

Emergency services workers responded very quickly, treated him for 20 or 30 minutes on site and then took him out on a stretcher. The World Cup organizing committee said he was taken to Doha’s Hamad General Hospital, but it did not state a cause of death.


Stadium announcement that US Journalist Grant Wahl has died before the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between England and France at Al Bayt Stadium on December 10, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar. (Photo by Richard Sellers/Getty Images)

An aortic aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge in the aorta, the large artery that carries blood from the heart through the chest and torso, the CDC explains. When they leak or rupture, the results are often fatal. Nearly 10,000 Americans died from that condition in 2019.

The condition is more common among smokers. The government recommends that men 65 to 75 years old who have ever smoked should get an ultrasound screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms, even if they have no symptoms

Wahl's brother initially said he feared foul play, but later retracted those comments. Gounder's post confirmed that Wednesday.

"The chest pressure he experienced shortly before his death may have represented the initial symptoms," she wrote. "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."


Soccer journalist Grant Wahl and his wife, Dr. Céline Gounder. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Budweiser)

Wahl wrote for Sports Illustrated for more than two decades and then started his own website. He was a major voice informing an American public of soccer during a time of increased interest after the United States hosted the 1994 World Cup.

He also brought a critical eye to the international organizing bodies of the sport.

Tributes to Wahl have poured in since his death and on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken added his voice to the chorus of appreciation.

"I so appreciated Grant Wahl, whose writing captured not only the essence of the beautiful game but also the world around it," Blinken wrote on Twitter about an hour after the repatriation was complete.

"I send my deepest condolences to his family, and thank our embassy team and Qatari partners who worked together so effectively to fulfill their wishes," Blinken wrote.

Wahl’s body was repatriated to the U.S. Monday. A memorial service is still being planned.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.