A suburban Detroit referee died Tuesday of his injuries after getting punched in the head following an adult league soccer game on Sunday.
Police said Baseel Abdul-Amir Saad, 36, allegedly attacked John Bieniewicz, 44, after the referee apparently told Saad he planned to eject him from the game, The Associated Press reported
. After surrendering to authorities, Saad was arraigned Monday a charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm. A probable cause hearing is scheduled for July 10.
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Bieniewicz, 44, was a dialysis technician at Mott Children's Hospital and is survived by his wife and two sons.
"I speak for all his friends when I say we are devastated. Crushed. Just a senseless way for a great guy to go out," longtime friend Jim Acho told the AP. "He deserved better."
Bieniewicz is said to have been a well-respected soccer referee for two decades. Another friend, Anthony Arrington, said he would often seek Bieniewicz's advice when coaching his sons' youth soccer teams.
"We have a special bond," Arrington told the AP. “Just heartbroken. Just a good person, good family man."
"When we're unhappy with sports officials, irrespective if the calls are right or wrong, the idea that we believe that we can go smack somebody because we're unhappy is disturbing," Barry Mano, president and founder of the National Association of Sports Officials based in Racine, Wisconsin, told the AP.
With several incidents of violence worldwide related to soccer games in the past 20 years, Mano said this type of behavior is part of a worrisome trend.
"We have trouble getting men and women and young people to come into refereeing. No duh. This is the reason why," he said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, more than $12,000 had been raised on GoFundMe.org for Bieniewicz’s family
According to a posting on the fundraising website, Bieniewicz was licensed to officiate professional, collegiate, high school, and children's soccer leagues and
was the president of the Metro Detroit Soccer Officials Organization.
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