Outraged spectators in northern Brazil stoned football referee Otavio da Silva to death and hacked up his body, after he stabbed a player, who died on his way to hospital.
Police say the incident happened when the referee red-carded 30-year-old player Josenir Abreu from a game. The two quarrelled and got into a fist fight, then Silva stabbed Abreu.
According to the Maranhao State Public Safety Department fans got to the field and decapitated the referee, then dismembered his body.
Local news reports say the angry mob stuck his head on a stake in the middle of the field.
Police have arrested a 27-year-old man in the ongoing investigation.
"We will identify and hold accountable all those involved in this incident. One crime will never justify another. Actions like this do not correspond with state law," police spokesman Valter Costa told reporters.
The police are reportedly looking for two more suspects.
The incident took place with a backdrop of Brazil facing mounting pressure to show it is a safe place before 12 cities host the 2014 World Cup and the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.
In June, Brazil was swept by the protests partly against the spending in preparation for the World Cup, as well as against the level of corruption.
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