Grant Wahl: Brother of football reporter who died in Qatar no longer suspects foul play

Mr Wahl died while covering the Fifa World Cup 2022

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The brother of Grant Wahl, the football journalist who died in Qatar while covering the World Cup, said on Tuesday that he no longer believes foul play was involved.

Immediately following Wahl’s death, his brother Eric Wahl took to social media to express doubt that he had died of natural causes.

“I spoke with Grant just the other day for his birthday,” Mr Wahl wrote on Twitter.

“He thought he'd caught bronchitis. I no longer believe that's what it was. Grant told me he'd received death threats. His phone better be among his things at Hamad hospital.”

But nearly five days after his death, Wahl's brother, who has been tweeting throughout the ordeal, has changed course.

“I no longer suspect foul play,” Mr Wahl tweeted on Tuesday, a day after his brother's body was repatriated to the US.

"There was nothing nefarious about his death," said Celine Gounder, Wahl's widow.

Ms Gounder said an autopsy confirmed that Wahl died "from the rupture of a slowly growing, undetected ascending aortic aneurysm".

Wahl had complained of respiratory problems earlier in the week and said on his podcast that he had been treated for a possible case of bronchitis.

The veteran journalist, 49, collapsed in his chair while covering Friday’s quarter-final match in which Argentina defeated the Netherlands in penalties.

Emergency service workers spent about half an hour treating Wahl before taking him to Doha’s Hamad General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Wahl was a larger-than-life figure in US football. He was widely regarded as a pioneer in the sport and one of the drivers behind the growing number of American fans.

His writing on football helped grow the popularity of the sport but his talent stretched beyond the pitch.

In 2002, he helped introduce a then 17-year-old LeBron James to the world. His cover story for Sports Illustrated, which anointed James “The Chosen One”, has become a fabled piece of sports journalism.

Upon learning of his death, James, now in his 19th year in the National Basketball Association, tweeted his condolences.

“You had a huge impact on me and my family and I’m so appreciative of you,” he said.

Updated: December 14, 2022, 3:37 PM