What we know about the death of Grant Wahl, the journalist who died at the World Cup

Tribute to late journalist Grant Wahl on a jumbotron prior to a World Cup match.
(Image credit: Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

Grant Wahl, the famed U.S. soccer journalist who collapsed and died at the World Cup in Qatar last week, died of an aortic aneurysm, his wife revealed Wednesday.

"Grant died from the rupture of a slowly growing, undetected ascending aortic aneurysm with hemopericardium," Dr. Céline Gounder wrote on Wahl's Substack, adding that an autopsy had been performed. "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."

Per ESPN, hemopericardium refers to "blood in the sac that surrounds the heart."

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Gounder's note and the accompanying autopsy puts a conclusive end to rampant speculation surrounding the nature of Wahl's death, which some on social media had linked to the COVID vaccine or foul play on behalf of the Qatari government, The New York Times reports.

Prior to this death, the otherwise healthy 49-year-old had said he'd been feeling unwell and experiencing cold-like symptoms. As the aneurysm grew, it may have produced "a cough, shortness of breath or chest pain, some of which the doctors consulted by [Wahl] in Qatar might have attributed to his cold and a possible case of bronchitis," the Times writes; the cold could have also been unrelated.

Further, "it's very hard to screen for" an aortic aneurysm, said Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent. "This is probably something that had been there for some time but not causing much in the way of symptoms."

Gounder said she wanted to confirm her husband's cause of death so the speculation would stop. "I wanted to make sure the conspiracy theories about his death were put to rest," she told the Times.

Wahl initially collapsed while covering the Argentina-Netherlands game on Friday. Medical personnel attempted to revive him for about 20 minutes before transporting him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, per the Times. A memorial service is being planned, ESPN adds, per Gounder.

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