A player from an amateur soccer league in Buenos Aires was found dead with a gunshot wound to his head shortly after being charged with attempted homicide for a violent assault against a referee during a match last weekend.
Buenos Aires police said Tuesday that the body of 24-year-old Williams Alexander Tapón was found near a train station, a few blocks away from his residence in a suburb south of the Argentine capital.
Tapón gained an unexpected level of notoriety on Monday when a video of the brutal assault of referee Cristian Ariel Paniagua went viral on social media. The incident occurred Saturday during a soccer match between La Cortada, Tapón’s team, and El Rejunte in an amateur tournament.
The player knocked the referee down with a punch and, while he was on the ground, kicked him in the head, rendering him unconscious. The referee was taken to the hospital in the suburb of Avellaneda.
After the victim filed a complaint, Avellaneda prosecutors charged Tapón 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 Tapón’s widow, who only identified herself as Agustina, was quoted as saying in media outlets 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 Crónica. “Those were his last words before doing what he did.”
Tapón was the father of a seven-month-old and a 2-year-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,” Tapón 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 favor.”