Grant Wahl’s wife Dr. Celine Gounder revealed the cause of death was an aortic aneurysm in the first interview since his death at the World Cup in Qatar

Grant WahlHis wife, dr. Celine Gounder, told CBS News on Wednesday the renowned football journalist died of a ruptured aortic aneurysm.

“He had an autopsy here in New York by the New York City Coroner’s Office, and it showed that he had an aortic aneurysm that had ruptured,” said Gounder, an infectious disease specialist and contributor to CBS News.

“It’s just one of those things that’s probably been brewing for years and for whatever reason it happened at this point,” she told CBS Mornings co-host Gayle King in her first interview since dying her husband.

Wahl died on Friday at the age of 49 while he was in Qatar covering the World Cup. His agent Tim Scanlan had said the journalist “apparently suffered from some kind of acute emergency in the stadium’s press room” during the quarter-final match between Argentina and the Netherlands when the two teams went into extra time. Paramedics were called to the scene, Scanlan said, but were unable to revive him.

Qatari officials said in a statement that Wahl “received immediate medical treatment at the scene, which continued when he was taken to Hamad General Hospital by ambulance.”

Gounder said she ended work calls on Friday when she saw messages on Twitter, text and email and realized “clearly something is wrong.” She was told her husband had collapsed and was taken to the hospital after about 20 minutes of CPR. She tried to track someone down at the hospital to tell her what happened.

“I kept asking: did he have a pulse?” She said. “If he had had a pulse when he left the stadium, that would have been a good sign, but nobody would answer the question. And so for me – I was scared.”

Grant Wahl
Grant Wahl is seen during a game between the US Men’s National Team and Ecuador at Rentschler Field on October 10, 2014 in East Hartford, Connecticut.

Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Gounder tweeted on Friday that she was “completely shocked” by the death of her husband and thanked Wahl’s “football family” and friends for their support.

“Knowing that he was loved by so many people makes me feel a little less alone,” Gounder told King. “It’s like a warm hug when you really need it.”

A prolific journalist, Wahl wrote for several outlets and was a contributor to CBS Sports. He was an analyst at CBS Sports HQ throughout the World Cup in Qatar, writing op-eds for CBS Sports that focused on the US men’s national team. He was also an editorial consultant for football documentaries on Paramount+.

Wahl spoke about his health on his Spotify podcast on Thursday, saying he contracted bronchitis while covering the World Cup. Scanlan told CBS News that Qatar’s election was on an “aggressive schedule.”

honors election quickly poured in after his death, from athletes like LeBron James and Billie Jean King.

His body was shipped to the United States on Monday.

“I want people to remember him as this kind, generous person who really championed social justice,” Gounder said.

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