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Michigan soccer player charged with murder after referee’s death

Jul 9, 2014, 4:26 PM EDT

john-bieniewicz AP

A soccer player from Detroit was charged with second-degree murder on Wednesday after being accused of killing a referee with a punch to the neck.

Baseel Abdul-Amir Saad is the man police have charged, eight days after referee John Bieniewicz died from the injuries he suffered in the attack while he was officiating.

Bieniewicz, 44, was refereeing a men’s soccer game in Livornia, Mich. on June 29 when Saad, who was facing a red card, punched him, Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy said.

The entire U.S. soccer community has been left shocked after this incident, plus an alarming rise in violent attacks against officials in amateur matches have been reported over the past few years.

Speaking about the tragic death of Mr. Bieniewicz, Worthy had the following to say.

 “This is especially tragic because it happened as the World Cup dominates our television screens,” Worthy said. “The alleged actions of this defendant cannot be tolerated and there must be action taken in our Legislature to make sure that there are stronger penalties when a referee is the victim during organized sport.”

The man accused of murder is 36, as Saad had originally been charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm before Bieniewicz died July 1. That charge will be dropped. According to the report from the Associated Press, Saad has been free on bond and he will appear again in a Livonia court Thursday on the second-degree murder charge.

 

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