American Journalist Grant Wahl Dies While Covering World Cup in Qatar

grant wahl cause of death

Twitter What was Grant Wahl's cause of death?

Grant Wahl was a soccer journalist who collapsed and died at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on December 9, 2022.

Wahl’s wife, Dr. Celine Gounder, revealed in a post on his website on December 14 that her husband’s cause of death was an aortic aneurysm that ruptured. Gounder wrote, “An autopsy was performed by the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office. Grant died from the rupture of a slowly growing, undetected ascending aortic aneurysm with hemopericardium. 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.”

Gounder added, “While the world knew Grant as a great journalist, we knew him as a man who approached the world with openness and love. Grant was an incredibly empathetic, dedicated, and loving husband, brother, uncle, and son who was our greatest teammate and fan. We will forever cherish the gift of his life; to share his company was our greatest love and source of joy.”

According to CNN, Wahl “collapsed” while he was “in the press area while covering Friday’s Argentina-Netherlands match.” Wahl, a former Sports Illustrated writer, had been in Qatar covering the World Cup for his site, “Fútbol with Grant Wahl,” and CBS Sports, drew attention earlier in the tournament after posting about being stopped while trying to enter a stadium.

Wahl tweeted on November 21, “Just now: Security guard refusing to let me into the stadium for USA-Wales. ‘You have to change your shirt. It’s not allowed.'”

CBS Sports issued a statement saying, “We are deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic passing of Grant Wahl. Grant was an exceptional journalist and a tremendous friend, colleague and ambassador for the game of soccer. Grant’s impact and imprint on the soccer community within the U.S. and globally will endure for years to come. All of us at CBS Sports offer our heartfelt condolences to Grant’s wife, Dr. Celine Gounder, his family and friends.”

Here’s what you need to know:


A Witness Says Wahl Was Laughing at a Joke ‘Only Minutes Earlier’

According to Daily Mail, Wahl was “healthy” before collapsing during a game on Friday, December 9, 2022. His brother, Eric Wahl, provided that detail in an Instagram video that is now deleted. In the video, Eric Wahl said he was concerned his brother had been killed, but he later backtracked on those accusations.

Eric Wahl explained why he deleted the video in a Twitter thread on December 11, writing, “To clarify, Grant was a healthy person in his regular life. I know he’d been under the weather recently & that he was told it was bronchitis & given medication. I’m aware of his posts about feeling like his body shut down. He was a workaholic & had used that phrase before w me (body shut down) just as a general indication that he needed to take a break & get some rest, so I didn’t immediately feel worried. Please allow me some grace for the emotional video I posted while I was still in shock.”

Grant Wahl’s brother added, “I didn’t know it would go everywhere until I returned to delete it, but by then, it was already everywhere. When I learned of Grant’s death, my immediate thought was that he had been killed. This was based on things G said to me the last 2 times I spoke w him. But there’s obviously no way I know anything certain. Our family will await word from American doctors, and we have faith that the US government people with whom we’ve been in contact are doing everything they can do to help us get answers. Until then, I’m taking a break to be with loved ones & practice self-care.”

Grant Wahl said in his “Fútbol with Grant Wahl” podcast on December 8, the day before he died:

My body finally broke down on me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and lots of work can do that to you. What had been a cold over the last 10 days turned into something more severe on the night of the USA-Netherlands game, and I could feel my upper chest take on a new level of pressure and discomfort.

He had tested negative for COVID-19, he said on the podcast. “I went into the medical clinic at the main media center today, and they said I probably have bronchitis. They gave me a course of antibiotics and some heavy-duty cough syrup, and I’m already feeling a bit better just a few hours later. But still: No bueno,” he wrote on his Substack.

The New York Times reported that Wahl went into “acute distress” in the final moments of a game that he was covering.

Witness Rafael Cores wrote on Twitter,

I’m in shock. I was sitting next to him tonight. He was working on his story on his laptop, it was about 4 minutes before the end of the extra time. He was laughing at a joke we saw on Twitter only minutes earlier. I can’t believe it. My deepest condolences to @GrantWahl’s family.


US Soccer Mourned Wahl in a Lengthy Statement

US Soccer released a lengthy statement about Grant Wahl’s death on its official Twitter page. “The entire U.S. soccer family is heartbroken to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl,” it read.

The statement continued:

Fans of soccer and journalism of the highest quality knew we could always count on Grant to deliver insightful and entertaining stories about our game, and its major protagonists: Teams, players, coaches and the many personalities that make soccer unlike any sport. Here in the United States, Grant’s passion for soccer and commitment to elevating its profile across our sporting landscape played 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. U.S. soccer sends its sincerest condolences to Grant’s wife, Dr. Celine Gounder, and all of his family members, friends and colleagues in the media, and we thank Grant for his tremendous dedication to and impact on our game in the United States. His writing and the stories he told will live on.


Wahl’s Wife, Celine Gounder, Proclaimed That She Was in ‘Complete Shock’

Wahl’s wife, Celine Gounder, posted a statement on Twitter. “I am so thankful for the support of my husband @GrantWahl’s soccer family & of so many friends who’ve reached out tonight,” she wrote. “I’m in complete shock.”

Her Twitter page describes her as: “Medicine/Infectious Disease/Epidemiology/@KFF @KHNews Senior Fellow & Editor-at-Large for Public Health/@CBSNews contributor/@NYUGrossman prof/@BellevueHosp doc.”

Wahl’s last tweet, just hours before he died, read, “Just an incredible designed set-piece goal by the Netherlands.” The tweet before it read, “What just happened?”
Wahl’s website reads:

I covered soccer for Sports Illustrated for 25 years, including 11 World Cups—six men’s, five women’s—and wrote more than three dozen cover stories on some of the most prominent figures in sports. I have written two books: The Beckham Experiment (2009), the first soccer book to make the New York Times Best Seller list, and Masters of Modern Soccer (2018), about the craft of soccer position by position. I have worked in television since 2012, have conducted hundreds of in-depth podcast interviews and have created and hosted narrative podcast series on the Freddy Adu story and the origins of the U.S. women’s national team and the FIFA women’s World Cup. I’m conversational in Spanish.

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