Soccer player sentenced for fatally punching referee

Posted at 12:02 PM, Mar 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-13 12:09:53-04

LIVONIA, Mich. — A man who fatally punched a soccer referee has been sentenced to between eight and 15 years in prison.

According to WJBK, 37-year-old Bassel Saad pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of John Bieniewicz.

Bieniewicz, 44, was punched in the head during a game last summer in Livonia after he was going to issue Saad a second yellow card and eject him from the game, WJBK reports.  He died two days later.

Family members of Bieniewicz were present in court on Friday.  According to WJBK, his mother, sisters and wife all spoke.

Kristen Bieniewicz, his wife, held a red card up while addressing Saad, WJBK reports.

“The one final thing that I want to do is I would like to serve Mr. Saad with the red card that he was entitled to,” she said, holding the card up.

According to WJBK, Saad could bee seen wiping away tears as she spoke.

“I think about him and his family every day, and I pray for him and his family every day,” Saad said in court.

Judge Thomas Cameron also spoke out against Saad during his sentencing, WJBK reports.

“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,” Judge Cameron said.

In addition to his prison sence, Saad was also ordered to pay more than $9,200 for the cost of Bieniewicz’s funeral.   He received a 256 day credit for prison time already served.