Referee dies after being punched during adult soccer league

Baseel Abdul-Amir Saad surrendered to authorities and was arraigned in Livonia District Court on Monday.

Uncredited/AP

DETROIT

A man who was punched while refereeing an adult-league soccer match died Tuesday, according to both a hospital spokesman and a longtime friend.

Detroit Receiving Hospital spokesman Alton Gunn, and friend and attorney Jim Acho, confirmed the death of John Bieniewicz, who was attacked Sunday at a park in Livonia.

Baseel Abdul-Amir Saad was arraigned Monday in Livonia District Court on a charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm. Bond was set at $500,000, and a probable-cause hearing was set for July 10.

Defense lawyer Brian Berry tells The Associated Press that his client cooperated with police and isn’t guilty of the charge. He says he and Saad send ”prayers out to the referee and his family.” Police say Saad punched Bieniewicz in the head after the referee indicated he planned to eject the 36-year-old Dearborn resident from a game Sunday.

Bieniewicz was a dialysis technician at Mott Children’s Hospital who lived in Westland with his wife and two sons, said Acho, who was a classmate of Bieniewicz’s at Catholic Central High School. ”His friends love him. He lives life to the fullest. Never has a bad day. Ever,” Acho said.

A fund is being set up to help pay for his friend’s funeral and burial expenses as well as the children’s futures, Acho added. Bieniewicz was a soccer referee for two decades.

On April 27, 2013, a then-17-year-old player punched referee Ricardo Portillo over being called for a foul during a soccer game in Taylorsville, Utah, near Salt Lake City. Portillo, a father of three, died after one week in a coma.

The teen pleaded guilty to a homicide charge.