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Bassel Saad, Soccer Player, Sentenced in Killing of Referee

Bassel Saad, 36, punched referee John Bieniewicz, 44, in the head when he signaled he was planning to eject Saad from a June 2014 soccer match.

A soccer player who pleaded guilty to manslaughter for fatally assaulting a referee during an adult soccer game in suburban Detroit last June was sentenced Friday to eight to 15 years in prison, prosecutors said.

Bassel Saad, 36, was charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm for punching referee John Bieniewicz, 44, in the head after the referee signaled he was planning to eject Saad from a soccer match in the city of Livonia.

Bieniewicz, a father of two, died in the hospital two days later, and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office. Saad's charges were amended to second-degree murder, but he pleaded down to manslaughter in February.

Saad was also instructed to pay $9,265 in restitution to Bieniewicz's family, according to NBC affiliate WDIV.

Judge Thomas Cameron, who handed down the sentence, told Saad on Friday that he had "come to personify all that's wrong with many people's belief about the escalation of violence in sports," the station reported.



— Elisha Fieldstadt