UK & World News

  • 2 July 2014, 1:52

Soccer Referee Dies After Red Card 'Sucker Punch'

An adult-league soccer referee has died from injuries he suffered when a player punched him in the head during a match.

John Bieniewicz, 44, was attacked on Sunday while overseeing a matchat a park in Livonia, Michigan, outside Detroit.

He died on Tuesday while in hospital, police said.

MrBieniewicz'slongtime friend,Jim Acho, said: "I speak for all his friends when I say we are devastated. Crushed.

"Just a senseless way for a great guy to go out. He deserved better."

Authorities sayBaseel Abdul-Amir Saad punched MrBieniewicz in the head just as the referee prepared to show him a red card.

Joseph Cosenza, who was playing for the opposing team, told WJBK-TV: "He put his head down to take his red card out. The guy didn't like it, walked right up to him, sucker punched him and knocked him out cold.

"He didn't even put his arms out or anything. He just fell right back."

Mr Cosenza said the suspect fled the pitch with a friend before police and medical personnel arrived.

Saad, 36, surrendered to authorities on Monday,Livonia police Lieutenant Tom Goralski said.

He appeared in court to face an initial charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm. That charge is likely to be amended following MrBieniewicz'sdeath.

Saad's lawyer, Brian Berry, said his client was co-operating with police.

Mr Bieniewicz worked as a dialysis technician at Mott Children's Hospital. He leaves behind a wife and two young sons.

A memorial website has been set up to help raise money for his family.

Mr Bieniewicz'sdeath mirrored an incident in April 2013, when a 17-year-old player punched referee Ricardo Portilloduring a match inUtah.

Mr Portillo died after a week in a coma. The teen pleaded guilty to a murder charge.

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