A recreation league soccer player from Dearborn was arraigned Monday on a felony assault charge after he allegedly punched a referee in the head, leaving him in critical condition, after he was about to be ejected from a match in Livonia Sunday.
Bassel Abdul-Amir Saad, 36, was reportedly upset about a call made by the referee, the Detroit Free Press reports.
The incident occurred about noon at Miles Park on 32305 West Chicago. In a news release, Livonia police said the referee was unconscious when paramedics arrived and remained in critical condition at an area hospital on Monday.
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After allegedly punching the ref, Saad ran from the field, but some of the nearly 30 people who witnessed the attack wrote down and shared his license plate number and vehicle make with police.
Josh Shaver, who practices on the field where the referee was assaulted, told WXYZ, Channel 7, that people take sports too seriously and are “getting heated over almost anything now.”
“... Clearly the guy’s got something going on if he’s doing that to a dude over a little game of rec league," Shaver told the TV station. “Sometimes you just run across some guys who take things a little too seriously.”
Joseph Cosenza told WJBK, Channel 2 that the match was fair and competitive until Saad allegedly “sucker punched” the referee and knocked him out. The referee didn’t see the attack coming, and was knocked out before he could respond.
Cosenza said violence is a common enough occurrence in league soccer that he and his friends are reconsidering whether to be part of the league. “All that for a meaningless, know-nothing over 30 men’s recreational league,” Cosenza told WJBK. “We want to go and play … but it’s not worth playing anymore because this is starting to happen.”
Violence in league soccer and other youth and amatuer sports is not uncommon, according to to Donald Collins, a self-described athletic administrator and sports official who keeps track of attacks on sports officials and documents other “bad acts” on a web site.
Saad, who turned himself into police Monday, was arraigned on a felony charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm and is being held in the Wayne County Jail on $500,000 cash/surety bond. If he makes bail, he must surrender his passport. His next court appearance is July 10 in 16th District Court in Livonia.
The charge carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.