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Amateur player in Michigan sentenced to 8 years for referee’s death; Could face deportation

Soccer Referee Killed

Jon Bieniewicz’s widow, Kris Bieniewicz, addresses the court as she gives the last victim’s impact statement and holds up a soccer “red flag’ in the courtroom of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Cameron on Friday, March 13, 2015 in Detroit. Bassel Saad was sentenced to at least eight years in prison for a punch that killed Bieniewicz, a Detroit-area referee. (AP Photo/Detroit News, Todd McInturf) DETROIT FREE PRESS OUT; HUFFINGTON POST OUT


Bassel Saad pleaded for forgiveness as he was sentenced to a minimum of eight years in prison for the ‘involuntary manslaughter’ of referee John Bieniewicz last year.

Saad, 37, was set to be handed a red card in a men’s league game and punched Bieniewicz, who died from the attack.

[ MORE: Testimony in trial | Detroit fans donate ]

Bieniewicz’s widow held up a red card of her own at the sentencing, and thinks the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Saad is eligible for parole in 2023, but could see as many as 15 years in prison with the chance for deportation.

From the Associated Press:

She said the sentence and plea deal were generous, adding: “It will always be murder in my eyes.”

“One man has enough pent-up frustration, enough vengeance in his heart, that with one blow he can take my husband’s life and in the process destroy not only my family but his family,” Bieniewicz said.

Saad, 37, will be eligible for parole after eight years. The maximum punishment is 15 years in prison, and he also could be deported. He expressed remorse and said he prays daily for the Bieniewicz family, which includes two children.

“I hope he’s with us, he can hear me. ... I hope one day they forgive me,” Saad said.

The story has served as an important example that is unfortunately necessary: We all take sports far too seriously, and it should never ever come to violence on the pitch, even more so against an official.

Follow @NicholasMendola