Wife of journalist who died at Qatar World Cup shuts down conspiracy theories

Author: Chantelle Billson

Grant Wahl stands infront of a red back drop with the Qatar World Cup logo written across it, while holding a miniature replica of the World Cup trophy, wearing a black blazer.

The wife of US sports journalist Grant Wahl has shared a touching tribute following his sudden death while covering a match at the World Cup in Qatar. 

Céline Gounder thanked people from around the globe for their “support, love and sympathy”, following her late husband’s passing. 

The 48-year-old Meadowlark Media correspondent died shortly after the Argentina-Netherlands game on Friday (9 December) in Doha, Qatar.

Gounder confirmed in her Substack post that an autopsy performed by the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office showed Wahl died of an undetected ascending aortic aneurysm with hemopericardium. 

“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,” she shared.

Wahl’s brother Eric had suggested his sibling “was killed”.

In an emotional clip posted on Instagram he said he believed Grant was healthy and that, while reporting on the World Cup, he had “received death threats”.

“I do not believe my brother just died,” Eric said. “I believe he was killed, and I just beg for any help.”

Sports journalist Grant Wahl typing on a laptop in the spacious media center of the Qatar World Cup.
Journalist Grant Wahl died aged 48. (Credit: Getty)

In the post Gounder expressed that it is a “very difficult and painful time”, as the family of Grant Wahl “grieve a beloved husband, brother, and friend”.  

She noted that some comfort has been found in knowing the many people her husband touched are also grieving alongside them. 

Gounder said his body arrived home on 12 December and this “transition was handled with the utmost care and sensitivity”.

Flowers were placed in memory of Grant Wahl, who passed away whilst reporting on the Argentina and Netherlands match on Friday, 9 December. (Credit: Getty Images/Clive Brunskill)

She then highlighted how he was known by his loved ones: “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.”

Gounder then highlighted his impressive career, which started in 1996 at Sports Illustrated after he came out of Princeton University. 

During this role, where he worked as a features writer, he published renowned work such as his cover story on LeBron James at age 16, his account of the US Women’s World Cup win in 1999, and his story of one soccer family’s loss and legacy. 

A photo of late journalist Grant Wahl holding a glass of wine and wearing a black jacket and wooly hat with his wife Céline Gounder who is wearing a pink top.
Grant Wahl with his wife Céline Gounder enjoying their love of wine. (Credit: Céline Gounder)

It was in 2009 that Gounder began covering football exclusively, and went on to become a New York Times bestseller with The Beckham Experiment, and in 2012 began working independently. 

“Grant had a deep respect and appreciation for his audience. He devoted his work life to earning their –your – time and respect in turn,” Gounder added. 

“Above all, he expressed his values through his work: his commitments to seeking truth through reporting, supporting fundamental human rights, and fighting for equality.

She recalled her husband “radiated pride” about his professional work, but said their lives together were a lot more than just their work. 

“What drew us together were shared values. 

“Shaped by strong women like his mother Helen and the late New York Times war correspondent Gloria Emerson, Grant was a feminist, by which I mean a staunch advocate for equality, and not just on the basis of sex.”

Gounder expressed admiration for how present Wahl was for family and friends.

She said he and his brother Eric “were the ballast” to their family after her “father passed away suddenly, just as I coordinated the care for Grant’s parents in their last years of life”.

A memorial service is being arranged and details will be shared soon. 

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Author: Chantelle Billson


My name is David but my online nick almost everywhere is Altabear. I'm a web developer, graphic artist and outspoken human rights (and by extension, mens rights) advocate. Married to my gorgeous husband for 12 years, together for 25 and living with our partner of 4 years, in beautiful Edmonton, Canada.

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