Soccer referee punched by player during game at park in Livonia

Referee in critical condition after incident Sunday at Mies Park; man charged with assault

LIVONIA, Mich. – The referee of an adult soccer game at a Livonia park is in critical condition after being punched in the head by a player.

Police said the victim, whose name was not immediately released, was knocked unconscious Sunday during a game at Mies Park by a soccer player.

Joe Cosenza was playing in the game when the referee ejected Baseel Saad, 36, of Dearborn.

"As he went into his pockets to pull out his red card, he had his head down, and as he came up the guy punched him, hit him kind of in the neck and chin area and then the jaw. He was out cold," Cosenza said. "Had he seen it coming he might have been able to get his arms up, but the guy took two or three steps and came right in. It was the scariest thing I've ever seen."

Saad is charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder.

Several players Local 4 Monday night that no matter how competitive the league is, the threat of trouble seems to be increasing, and many players are tired of it.

"There's no excuse or justification for punching, or any physical confrontation, when it comes to fighting between a ref and a player," another local player said.

Saad was arraigned Monday. His bond was set at $500,000. His preliminary examination is scheduled for July 10.

About the Author:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.