A soccer player who played just on the weekends will spend 8 to 15 years in prison for punching a referee and killing him. The case has inspired lawmakers in Michigan to discuss an entirely new class of crimes related to sports.
Bassel Saad was in court on Friday after he pleaded guilty last month to a charge of involuntary manslaughter. He will receive credit for the 256 days he served prior to his court date and was ordered to pay as much as $9,000 in restitution to the family of the victim and the court. After Saad serves his sentence, he faces a deportation hearing since he is not a citizen of the U.S.
Saad was 35, worked as an auto mechanic, and lived in Dearborn, Michigan. He admitted to punching John Bieniewicz June 29, as the referee, who was 44, was ready to give Saad a red card and eject him from an adult league match in the Michigan United Soccer League. Bieniewicz died just two days later.
Prior to being sentenced, Saad listened while putting his head down on the table to family members of Bieniewicz who addressed the court.
Saad did not react too much to the family speaking unit Kris, Bieniewicz’s wife spoke. She said she was highly disappointed that Saad was not charged and convicted of murder.
She told the court what do you tell to a 9-year old who lost his father and says he thought when someone killed another person they went to jail for the rest of their lives. Before she stepped down, she took out a red card and told the court that she was serving the red card to Saad who deserved it but her husband was killed before he could give it to him.
According to eyewitnesses, Bieniewicz reached into his shirt pocket and was pulling the red card out when Saad punched him.
The incident has prompted legislators in Michigan to consider making the state the 20th in the nation with criminal law that focuses on assaults against sports officials.