Prominent American soccer journalist Grant Wahl died last week of an aortic aneurysm while covering the World Cup in Qatar, according to his wife.
“There was nothing nefarious about his death,” Celine Gounder wrote in a statement posted online.
Wahl, 49, died after collapsing while covering Friday’s match between Argentina and the Netherlands, CNN reported. His agent, Tim Scanlan, told The New York Times that Wahl was in the press box and that he had earlier said he wasn’t feeling well.
“He wasn’t sleeping well, and I asked him if he tried melatonin or anything like,” Scanlan told the newspaper. “He said, ‘I just need to like relax for a bit.’”
Wahl’s body was repatriated to the United States on Monday, the Associated Press reported. The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office subsequently did an autopsy that determined that Wahl had died “from the rupture of a slowly growing, undetected ascending aortic aneurysm with hemopericardium,” Gounder said Wednesday.
“No amount of CPR or shocks would have saved him,” she said. “His death was unrelated to COVID. His death was unrelated to vaccination status.”
An aortic aneurysm is a “balloon-like bulge” in the aorta, the largest artery in the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A rupture happens when the bulge bursts, causing internal bleeding.
“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 an appearance on “CBS Mornings.”
Wahl covered soccer for Sports Illustrated for 25 years, including coverage of every World Cup since 1994. Officials with the United States Soccer Federation, the governing body of soccer in the U.S., remembered Wahl last week as playing “a major role in helping to drive interest in and respect for our beautiful game.”
“As important, Grant’s belief in the power of the game to advance human rights was, and will remain, an inspiration to all. Grant made soccer his life’s work, and we are devastated that he and his brilliant writing will no longer be with us,” officials said. “His writing and the stories he told will live on.”
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