It was a fight to the death with all the blood, guts, and barbaric cruelty found in Game of Thrones. But it was horrifyingly real. Earlier this summer, during an amateur soccer match in the Brazilian state of Maranhao, a referee and player argued over a call. The ref pulled out a knife and fatally stabbed the player. Then, other players and spectators rushed onto the field, killed the referee, and sliced off his legs, arms, and head with a sickle. The murderous rampage ended with the man’s head on a stake in the middle of the soccer pitch.
While the stomach-turning violence marked a new nadir for the sports world, it was one of many recent assaults on officials. On June 30 in Lynn, police say, a player repeatedly attacked a referee who had issued a red penalty card during a US Latin Soccer League contest. The ref spent two days in the hospital, recovering from a broken facial bone, deep forehead laceration, and black eye. The player was charged with assault and battery, and his two brothers were also charged for their alleged roles in the incident.