18 July 2023

Amateur footballer found dead in Argentina after attack on referee goes viral

18 July 2023

A footballer from an amateur league in Buenos Aires has been found shot dead after footage of him attacking a referee went viral.

Williams Alexander Tapon’s body was found with a gunshot wound to his head shortly after being charged with attempted homicide for the assault during a match last weekend.

Buenos Aires police said the body of the 24-year-old was discovered near a train station close to his residence in a suburb south of the Argentine capital.

Tapon gained an unexpected level of notoriety on Monday when a video of the assault of referee Cristian Ariel Paniagua went viral on social media.

The incident occurred on Saturday during a match between La Cortada, Tapon’s team, and El Rejunte in an amateur tournament.

The only explanation I can give is that I was angry

The player knocked the referee down with a punch and, while he was on the ground, kicked him in the head, leaving him unconscious. The referee was taken to the hospital in the suburb of Avellaneda.

After the victim filed a complaint, Avellaneda prosecutors charged Tapon with “aggravated attempted homicide with premeditation in the context of a sporting event”, a crime that carries a penalty of 10 to 15 years in prison, according to the prosecutorial documents.

The police did not confirm the cause of death but Tapon’s widow, who only identified herself as Agustina, was quoted by local media saying that he died by presumed suicide, citing an audio message she had received from him.

“In the audio message he sent me saying goodbye, he told me, ‘Take care of our children’ and ‘I prefer that everyone suffer at once rather than seeing me suffer every day in prison,’” she told local news channel Cronica. “Those were his last words before doing what he did.”

Tapon was the father of two children, a two-year-old and a seven-month-old.

Sports security authorities had been considering banning him for life from attending sporting events.

“The truth is that I was in a bad state, I admit it. It was those five minutes when I couldn’t control myself, and I reacted that way toward the referee,” Tapon said in an interview he gave to Canal 9 in Buenos Aires on Monday, hours before he was found dead.

“The only explanation I can give is that I was angry. The referee didn’t help; from the beginning, he was making all the calls in their favour.”

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