Rio de Janeiro, Oct 5 (EFE).- A Brazilian soccer player has been arrested for kicking a referee in the back of the head and leaving him unconscious during a match in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul.
Willian Ribeiro, a forward for Sport Club Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo RS), a club that competes in the second level of the Rio Grande do Sul state soccer league, was detained by police early Tuesday morning.
The incident occurred early in the second half of Monday night’s match between Sao Paulo RS and Guarani in the city of Venancio Aires and forced the contest to be suspended.
Ribeiro thought he had been fouled on a play and became enraged when the referee, Rodrigo Crivellaro, let the action continue, pushing him down and then kicking him in the back of the head when he was in a defenseless position on the ground.
Video footage of the aggression has gone viral on social media in Brazil.
Crivellaro lost consciousness and had to be taken by ambulance from Edmundo Feix Stadium to a local hospital, where he was listed in stable condition on Tuesday morning.
Ribeiro will be jailed while a court decides whether or not to continue to hold him in pre-trial detention.
“The attack was very strong, violent, to the referee’s head, causing him to lose consciousness and be taken to the hospital. He therefore could face attempted murder charges,” Vinicius Assuncao, the chief of Venancio Aires’ Civil Police force, said.
“Besides, the victim also was not in a position to defend himself. He’d already been hit when he was standing up and then fell and was left unable to defend himself. He could’ve died or suffered a severe brain injury,” he added.
Sao Paulo RS, a club based in the southern port city of Rio Grande, issued a statement denouncing Ribeiro’s actions and said his contract had been immediately terminated.
Rio Grande do Sul’s soccer federation lamented the incident and said the case also will be heard by a sports tribunal.
The 30-year-old Ribeiro has a history of violence both on and off the field.
A forward who has competed for different clubs in the second level of Rio Grande do Sul’s league, he was ejected from a 2014 match between Guarani (his team at the time) and Pelotas for punching a rival player.
He also was accused of attacking a fan in an off-the-field incident. EFE