The body of prominent American journalist Grant Wahl has been returned to the United States and an autopsy is underway after his death while covering the World Cup in Qatar, his manager has said.
Wahl, 49, died on Friday after collapsing while covering a match between Argentina and the Netherlands.
Wahl’s remains were repatriated on Monday and were in the possession of the New York medical examiner, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday.
Wahl’s family is expected to share a statement on Tuesday, his manager, Tim Scanlan, told CNN.
Wahl had covered football for more than two decades, including 11 World Cups – six men’s, five women’s – and authored several books on the sport, according to his website.
He made headlines in November when he reported that he had been detained and briefly refused entry to a World Cup match because he wore a rainbow t-shirt in support of children’s rights. LGBTQ.
There’s “no indication of foul play or anything nefarious at this point,” Price said of the circumstances surrounding Wahl’s death.
“We received excellent cooperation from our Qatari partners as soon as we learned of Grant Wahl’s passing,” Price said. “Our Ambassador…was in regular contact with senior Qatari government officials with the aim of ensuring that we were able to accommodate the family’s wishes as quickly as possible.”
Qatar World Cup organizers said on Saturday that Wahl “became ill” in the press area, where he received “immediate medical treatment on site”. He was later transferred to Hamad General Hospital, said a spokesman for the Supreme Court’s Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the body responsible for planning the tournament.
In an episode of the Futbol podcast with Grant Wahl, published a few days before his death on December 6, he complained of being unwell.
“It had gotten pretty bad in terms of tightness in my chest, tightness, pressure. I feel kind of hairy, bad,” Wahl told co-host Chris Wittyngham in the episode. He added that he had sought help from the medical clinic at the World Cup media centre, believing he had bronchitis.
He was given cough syrup and ibuprofen and felt better soon after, he said.
Wahl also said he experienced an “involuntary surrender of my body and mind” after the Dutch-American game on December 3.
“It’s not my first rodeo. I did eight in the men’s,” he said at the time. “And so, I got sick to some degree every tournament, and it’s just about trying to find a way to love doing your job.”
He further described the incident in a recent newsletter published on December 5, writing that his body had “collapsed” after little sleep, high stress and a heavy workload. He had had a cold for 10 days, which “turned into something more serious”, he wrote, adding that he was feeling better after being given antibiotics and catching up on sleep.