Man charged in punching death of soccer referee

By Michelle Kapusta,

Authorities said a referee of an adult soccer match in Michigan was punched by a player and died from the injury on Tuesday.

According to CNN, John Bieniewicz, 44, was allegedly the victim of a fatal blow to the head that left him unconscious on Sunday. He was taken to an area hospital where he died two days later.

"John Bieniewicz was a man who lived life to the fullest," friends wrote on a website dedicated to his memory. "He had a passion for his family, a passion for the kids at Mott Children's Hospital, and a passion for soccer. John died doing what he loved: Officiating a soccer game."

USA Today noted that the alleged attacker, Bassel Abdul-Amir Saad, 36, of Dearborn, has been charged with a felony count of assault with intent to do great bodily harm. His bond is set at $500,000.

Police say the alleged assault happened at Mies Park after Bieniewicz indicated that he planned to eject Saad from the game. The player then allegedly punched the ref and fled while waving his middle finger at the stunned crowd.

He had plead not guilty to the charge. A hearing is set for July 10.

Bieniewicz leaves behind a wife and two sons.

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