Wife of soccer referee killed during game wants stronger laws to protect officials

Sports is just part of the Bieniewicz family, always has and likely always will be. But having lost a husband and father to a senseless crime during a soccer match has made this family re-evaluate the way referee's should be seen in the eyes of the law.  

Fox 2's Dave Spencer spoke with John Bieniewicz wife, Kris who was left after the incident without a husband and without a father to their two boys.

John Bieniewicz was killed July 1 of last year when a player he was getting ready to eject from an adult soccer league in Livonia punched him, ultimately resulting in his death. 

That man, 36-year-old Bassel Saad is set to be sentenced March 13 after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter. Saad will be given up to 15 years in prison, but no less than 8.

"Its a game, you are supposed to have fun, no one should have that much pent up frustration. To punch someone and kill them," says Kris. 

The death of her husband continues to effect her every move. According to Kris, she was recently coaching her son's basketball game when a coach had a problem with a call in the game and let the ref know about it. "They got to be about that far from each other and I snapped."

In terms of dealing and moving on with her life, she explains, "it's nothing i wish on anyone to have to experience. My stomach turns into knots and it's miserable."

She never asked to be known as the wife of the man who was killed while refing a soccer game, but now she wants to ensure no one else will know her pain, speaking out to change a law when it comes to violence against refs.

Bieniewicz says the penalty should be up to 3 years in prison or a ten-thousand dollar fine, and an automatic felony either way. 

She knows it won't prevent all crimes, but it may give some people pause when a match starts to get heated.

"If i can keep the story alive and get even one more person to think twice about what they are doing, then I feel like I have achieved something," says Bieniewicz. 

She knows that not everyone feels a new law is needed.  Some of the opposition she's heard is that refs don't deserve special treatment but she argues refs are always outnumbered and often deal with people who can be overly passionate and emotional.

If you want to help her cause, she urges you to call your local lawmaker.

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