National Sports

Friend: Ref punched during game is loved by many

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LIVONIA, Mich. (AP) — A friend says a Detroit-area man who was critically injured while refereeing a soccer match is an optimist who “never has a bad day.”

John Bieniewicz (BEN’-uh-wits) is in critical condition at a hospital after being punched by a player at a Sunday game in Livonia.

High school classmate and attorney Jim Acho (A’-choh) said Tuesday that Bieniewicz is a dialysis technician at a children’s hospital. He lives in Westland with his wife and two sons.

Acho says Bieniewicz was a high school football and basketball player who later turned to soccer. He’s been a well-respected referee for two decades.

Authorities haven’t named the referee they say was punched during the adult-league game. Acho says they are good friends.

A 36-year-old Dearborn man is charged with assault in the case.


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