Soccer player sentenced 8-15 years

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — The man who punched a soccer referee, who later died, last year in Livonia was sentenced Friday to 8 to 15 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

Bassel Saad, 36, of Dearborn is also required to pay the victim’s family $9,265 in restitution.

The sentencing took place in Wayne County Circuit Court before Judge Thomas Cameron.

“For better or for worse, you’ve come to personify all that’s wrong with many people’s belief about the escalation of violence in sports,” Cameron said to Saad.

Saad will be eligible for parole after eight years.

He also faces the possibility of deportation to Lebanon because he is not a U.S. citizen.

Initially, Saad faced a second-degree murder charge and possible life in prison if he was found guilty during a trial.

The incident happened on June 29 when referee John Bieniewicz was preparing to give Saad a red card during the game.

Saad than punched Bieniewicz in the neck which cased the ref to collapse with his death coming on July 1.

Bieniewicz worked at the pediatric dialysis center at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at