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Rec League Soccer Ref in Critical Condition after ‘Terrifying’ Assault

The alleged assault is the latest in a string of assaults on sports officials, which is causing some to rethink the value of leisure sports.

Bassel Abdul-Amir Saad, 36, faces felony assault charges in connection with an attack on a referee, who was in critical condition Monday. (Photo: Livonia Police)
Bassel Abdul-Amir Saad, 36, faces felony assault charges in connection with an attack on a referee, who was in critical condition Monday. (Photo: Livonia Police)

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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Another player in the adult soccer match, Scott Herkes, 39, saw the attack from 30 yards away, and he described it as “terrifying” to the Free Press. The referee, who had stopped the match to ask Saad to leave after his second violation that day, “did nothing to provoke this attack,” Herkes said.

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.

In Utah last year, a referee died after he was assaulted by a 17-year-old player who was upset over a foul, the Associated Press/WWJ-TV reports.

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.


Dan Crabtree July 01, 2014 at 02:17 PM
there all idiots of course...all this over a girlie sissy game called soccer...ureal..
Henry Sadowski July 01, 2014 at 02:57 PM
A pussy who sucker punches someone should get the maximum sentence...
kaitlyn Mckinsley July 01, 2014 at 06:10 PM
Mr.Ross you are blinded by whatever CNN tells you and by our own ignorance. I wish that you can see that EVERY religion has its bad apples. You hate all Muslims because the media tells you to. Is every priest a molester? Is every Muslim a terrorist? Are all Jews murderers? No, all of that is not true because it's wrong to judge a religion or race by one or even a thousand people. I have nothing against you my friend, just giving you my two cents.
Bob Jackie July 02, 2014 at 09:46 AM
Dirty little dog Bassel Abdul-Amir Saad is going to prison for the rest of his life.

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