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Grant Wahl's wife reveals US soccer journalist's cause of death

The family of Grant Wahl, who died while covering the World Cup, have revealed his cause of death and said "There was nothing nefarious about his death."

WASHINGTON — Soccer journalist Grant Wahl died from an aneurysm in his heart that ruptured while covering the World Cup in Qatar, his family revealed Wednesday morning

Wahl's widow, Dr. Céline Gounder shared details on his cause of death during an interview with "CBS Mornings" and in a note on her husband's website. An autopsy was conducted by the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office. 

She explained in the interview that the aortic aneurysm was likely brewing for years and for whatever reason happened at this point in time. 

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

Wahl's brother, Eric Wahl, had said in the immediate aftermath of the journalist's death that he believed his brother "was killed." After Wahl's body was brought back to the United States and an autopsy was performed, Eric Wahl said his family no longer suspected foul play

Wahl, who had complained of respiratory problems in the days before his death and had been treated for a possible case of bronchitis, fell back in his seat in a section of Lusail Stadium reserved for journalists during extra time of the World Cup match between Argentina and the Netherlands, 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 to the hospital. 

Wahl had complained during the World Cup about feeling ill.

"My body finally broke down on me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and lots of work can do that to you,” Wahl wrote on Dec. 5. “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.”

Wahl wrote that he tested negative for COVID-19 and sought treatment for his symptoms.

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.

What is aortic aneurysm? 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 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. 

In 2019, aortic aneurysms or aortic dissections were the cause of 9,904 deaths in the United States. 

What causes aortic aneurysm

Diseases and actions that damage a person's heart and blood vessels increases your risk for aortic aneurysm, with smoking being "the most important behavior related to aortic aneurysm," the CDC states on its website. Other facts include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and hardened arteries. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Credit: AP
A tribute to journalist Grant Wahl is show on a screen before the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between England and France, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022.

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