Football ref dies after player he sent off punches him

This article is more than 12 months old

A footballer in the US, furious at being sent off, threw a punch to the referee's jaw. 

The impact was so strong that referee John Bieniewicz never regained consciousness after the incident at a match in Michigan on Sunday (June 30).

He died in hospital on Tuesday.

Witnesses said the referee, a hospital medical assistant who loved football, had officiated neutrally and did nothing to provoke the attack, reported Detroit Free Press.

The alleged puncher is Mr Bassel Abdul-Amir Saad, 36, (below) who fled in a vehicle after the incident but turned himself in later.

He was charged on Monday (July 1) with assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder.

Dr Jamal Saleh, who played in the game, performed CPR on the victim until medical aid arrived, he said in a comment on the Detroit Free Press website.

“We are all shocked and deeply saddened by these events,” he added.


"It was terrifying," another player, Mr Scott Herkes, 39, told USA Today. He said that Mr Bieniewicz was looking down and he did not see the punch coming.

"It was unfathomable that such an incident happened."

Mr Bieniewicz, 44, is survived by his wife and two young sons, aged 9 and 13.

A fund-raising website set up to help the family with funeral expenses and the children to move forward has raised about US$25,000 (S$31,000) in just a day.

Sources: Detroit Free Press, USA Today,