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Player jailed for killing ref

Bassel Saad
Bassel Saad

An amateur footballer whose punch killed a referee has been sentenced to at least eight years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

Bassel Saad, a car mechanic, admitted striking referee John Bieniewicz as he was about to be sent off during a game last summer at a park in Livonia, Detroit.

In a dramatic moment, Mr Bieniewicz's wife Kris held up a red card in court, signalling the sending off.

Saad expressed remorse and will be eligible for parole after eight years. His maximum punishment is 15 years in prison.

The case against Saad has put a spotlight on out-of-control recreational athletes and inspired Michigan legislators to consider new offences for assaults on referees.