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Report: Michigan referee punched during soccer game dies

AP

LIVONIA. Mich. - A Detroit-area soccer referee has died after being punched in the head while officiating an adult-league match, according to a hospital and a longtime friend of the victim.

Baseel Abdul-Amir Saad, 36, was arraigned Monday in Livonia District Court a charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm. Livonia police Lt. Tom Goralski said Saad punched John Bieniewicz in the head after the referee indicated he planned to eject the Dearborn resident from a game Sunday at Mies Park.

Bond was set at $500,000, and a probable-cause hearing was set for July 10.

The Associated Press left messages Monday seeking comment from Saad's lawyer, Brian Berry.

The referee had been in critical condition after being taken to a hospital Sunday, authorities said. Detroit Receiving Hospital spokesman Alton Gunn and friend and attorney Jim Acho confirmed that Bieniewicz died Tuesday morning.

Saad wasn't at the field when police arrived, Goralski said. The lieutenant said Saad surrendered Monday.

Acho said a fund is being set up to help pay for his friend's funeral and burial expenses as well as his children's futures. He said the victim was a dialysis technician at a children's hospital who lived in Westland with his wife and two sons.

Violence is far-from-uncommon in soccer and other sports, as illustrated by the recorded telephone message at the National Association of Sports Officials in Racine, Wisconsin.

"For NASO insurance or assault information, press 3," the message says.

A request for comment was left Monday for association spokesman Matt Moore.

On April 27, 2013, a then-17-year-old player punched referee Ricardo Portillo over being called for a foul during a game in a soccer game in Taylorsville, Utah, near Salt Lake City. Portillo, a father of three, died after one week in a coma.

The teen pleaded guilty to a homicide charge.

  • Crimesider Staff

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