Grant Wahl Died of Ruptured Blood Vessel in Heart at World Cup, Autopsy Shows

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 14, 2022

AL KHOR, QATAR - DECEMBER 10: 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)
Richard Sellers/Getty Images

The cause of death for soccer journalist Grant Wahl was revealed Wednesday.

His family announced he died while covering the men's World Cup in Qatar because of a ruptured blood vessel leading from his heart, per Apoorva Mandavilli and Andrew Das of the New York Times.

An autopsy showed he "experienced a catastrophic rupture in the ascending aorta, which carries oxygenated blood from the heart."

Wahl collapsed in the press box while covering the quarterfinal match between Argentina and the Netherlands. Medical personnel attempted to revive him before he was transported to the hospital, where he was eventually pronounced dead.

Mandavilli and Das noted there were suggestions following his death that COVID-19 vaccines or foul play could have been factors.

Dr. Celine Gounder, Wahl's wife, is an infectious disease physician and was part of the transition team that advised President Joe Biden during the coronavirus pandemic.

"She and the rest of the family rejected, in particular, the speculation linking his death to vaccines, saying that it was especially insulting because of her work," Mandavilli and Das wrote.

Eric Wahl, Grant's brother, initially believed there could have been foul play because Wahl had recently posted an article criticizing the Qatari response to the death of another migrant worker at the World Cup. What's more, he detailed difficulties he ran into while wearing a shirt with a rainbow to support gay rights in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal:

Subscribe to GrantWahl.com @GrantWahl

I'm OK, but that was an unnecessary ordeal. Am in the media center, still wearing my shirt. Was detained for nearly half an hour. Go gays 🌈 <a href="https://t.co/S3INBoCz89">https://t.co/S3INBoCz89</a>

Subscribe to GrantWahl.com @GrantWahl

Free to read: What happened when Qatar World Cup security detained me for 25 minutes for wearing a t-shirt supporting LGBTQ rights, forcibly took my phone and angrily demanded that I remove my t-shirt to enter the stadium. (I refused.) Story: <a href="https://t.co/JKpXXETDkH">https://t.co/JKpXXETDkH</a> <a href="https://t.co/HEjr0xzxU5">pic.twitter.com/HEjr0xzxU5</a>

Yet Eric tweeted the following Tuesday: "The family will release a statement as to cause of death soon. I no longer suspect foul play."

Wahl was covering the eighth World Cup of his career in Qatar.

He was often held up as the gold standard of soccer coverage, especially in the United States. His career featured stops at Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and CBS Sports.