Soccer Referee Beheaded by Angry Fans in Brazil

Tuesday, 09 Jul 2013 09:48 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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The beheading of a soccer referee by Brazilian fans has renewed concerns about violence and safety there ahead of next year's World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, but some suggest the incident was "isolated."

After the beheading, the referee's decapitated head was placed on a stake in the soccer field, reported the Rio Times. His body had been quartered after he first was stoned and beaten.

Authorities told Chesney Hearst of the Rio Times that one man had been arrested and two others are being sought in the June death of referee Otavio Jordao da Silva, 20, who was overseeing an amateur soccer match in Pio XII, in the state of Maranhao, in northern Brazil.

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According to reports, soccer player Santos Abreu kicked Jordao da Silva after the referee gave him a red card. In retaliation, Jordao da Silva drew a knife and threw it at Abreu,  stabbing the soccer player in the chest.

Angry fans originally had tied up Jordao da Silva to wait until authorities arrived. Witnesses told the newspaper when police had not responded for nearly two hours, the crowd grew more angry and attacked the referee.

Police arrested Luiz Moraes Souza, 27, in connection with Jordao da Silva's death. The newspaper reported that Souza said in a news conference after his arrest that the crowd "waited for the police for more than an hour and a half. We called them, no one appeared. Then they lynched him."

Santa Ines police chief Valter Costa, who is handling the case, said authorities are using video taken from the crowd to identify additional suspects.

"Witness reports have indicated some people that were in place at the time of incident," Costa said in a news release obtained by the Rio Times. "We will identify and hold accountable all those involved in this incident. One crime will never justify another. Actions like this do not contribute to the legality of a state with the rule of law."

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Paulo Storani, a security expert who spent three decades in Rio's police forces, told The Associated Press that the murder was "an isolated incident." He said the incident should not be a reflection on Brazil's ability to protect players, referees and fans at the World Cup.

"It's something that's completely out of the ordinary which took place in an isolated area of the poorest state in the country, an area where violence is very widespread," Storani told the AP. "While it's true we are used to soccer violence in Brazil, this is completely off the charts of what we usually see."

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