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October 1, 2014

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Police: Man critically injures ref at soccer game

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An undated photo provided by the Livonia Police Department is of Baseel Abdul-Amir Saad.

LIVONIA, Mich. — A Detroit-area soccer player faces a felony assault charge for allegedly punching a referee during an adult-league match, critically injuring the ref.

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.

Saad's lawyer, Brian Berry, told the Associated Press his client is cooperating with police and is not guilty of the charge.

Saad punched the unnamed referee in the head after the referee indicated he planned to eject the 36-year-old Dearborn resident from a game Sunday at Mies Park, Livonia police Lt. Tom Goralski said.

The referee was in critical condition Monday afternoon, authorities said.

Saad wasn't at the field when police arrived, Goralski said. The lieutenant said Saad surrendered Monday.

Berry questioned whether his client was the reason for the referee's injuries.

"As the case progresses we expect to learn the cause of the referee's injuries," the lawyer said in an email. "I can further state that Mr. Saad cooperated with the police investigation and voluntarily turned himself in to the Livonia Police Department to stand trial for the charges he is faced with.

"We send our prayers out to the referee and his family, and we hope for a quick recovery."

Violence is not uncommon in soccer and other sports, as illustrated by the recorded telephone message at the National Association of Sports Officials in Racine, Wisconsin.

"For NASO insurance or assault information, press 3," the message says.

A request for comment was left Monday for association spokesman Matt Moore.

On April 27, 2013, a then-17-year-old player punched referee Ricardo Portillo over being called for a foul during a game in 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.

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