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Footballer jailed for punch that killed referee

A player reacted to being booked during a game in America.

File pic.
File pic.

A FOOTBALLER HAS been jailed for at least eight years after punching to death a referee in a Michigan United Soccer League match in America.

Bassel Saad had already been booked when official John Bieniewicz adjudged him to have committed another foul and prepared to show him a second yellow card.

Instead of accepting his punishment, the player reacted by knocking the referee unconscious with a single punch, leaving him lifeless on the pitch.

Bieniewicz, 44, was taken to a Detroit hospital but passed away two days later, resulting in Saad being charged with involuntary manslaughter.

The 37-year-old pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a minimum of eight years in prison and ordered to pay €8700 towards funeral costs by judge Thomas Cameron, who delivered a final damning verdict on Friday.

He said: “For better or for worse, you’ve come to personify all that’s wrong with many people’s belief about the escalation of violence in sports.”

The referee’s widow, Kristen, held up a red card as Saad was led from court and added: “I would like to serve Mr Saad with the red card that he was entitled to.”

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