Grant Wahl, the renowned soccer writer who scrutinized FIFA’s decision to hold this year’s World Cup in Qatar, had his cause of death revealed by his wife, Dr. Céline Gounder, on Wednesday. Wahl died suddenly at age 49 last Friday while covering a Men's World Cup match in Qatar.
Gounder said that an autopsy conducted by the New York City Medical Examiner found that Wahl died from a “slowly growing, undetected ascending aortic aneurysm with hemopericardium.”
There was considerable speculation about his cause of death on Friday. The death prompted the U.S. State Department to issue a statement saying it was in close communication with Wahl’s family. Gounder said his death was not caused by foul play.
She also dismissed speculation that the COVID-19 vaccine caused Wahl’s death. Gounder is an infectious disease expert who served as an adviser to then-President-elect Joe Biden in the days leading up to his inauguration.
“The chest pressure he experienced shortly before his death may have represented the initial symptoms,” she wrote. “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 body arrived in the U.S. on Monday after officials coordinated his return.
”This was an international matter that required coordination from multiple agencies domestically and internationally, and there was full cooperation from everyone involved,” she wrote. “Our sincere gratitude to everyone involved in repatriating Grant, in particular the White House, the U.S. Department of State, FIFA, U.S. Soccer and American Airlines.”
Wahl made headlines early in the event for wearing a rainbow t-shirt to a game, which caused security to prevent him from entering the stadium. He wore the shirt in response to Qatar's strict policy against homosexuality.
A memorial service for Wahl has yet to be determined.