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Three teen players charged with manslaughter over beating death of Dutch soccer ref

Dec 4, 2012, 3:18 PM EDT

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All amateur soccer games in the Netherlands have been cancelled for this weekend, and professional players will wear black armbands in memory of Richard Nieuwenhuizen, the youth league referee who was killed on Sunday after being attacked by several players during a game. Yep, you read that correctly: a soccer ref was killed by players during a youth league game.

The incident took place in the city of Almere, which is near Amsterdam, and police say the attackers were two 16-year-olds and a 15-year-old, who were officially charged with manslaughter, assault and public violence on Tuesday. The game was between Buitenboys and Nieuw Sloten. Nieuwenhuizen had a son on one of the teams, who witnessed the attack.

The players, whose identities have not been released, are to be charged with manslaughter, assault and public violence. They will be arraigned Thursday at a closed hearing.

Prosecutors have released no details of a possible motive, and Buitenboys club chairman Marcel Oost said the reason for the attack was not certain.

“We still don’t have a clear picture yet,” prosecution spokeswoman Brigit Haan told The Associated Press.

Nieuwenhuizen seemed to be unhurt immediately following the attack, but collapsed later that day and was rushed to the hospital, where he died the following morning. YouTube user JonesHighlights claims to have video of the initial portion of the attack.

Frank de Boer, manager of the top Dutch soccer club Ajax, called the attack “too ridiculous for words.”

“You can’t imagine it happening,” de Boer said in a press conference in Madrid. “That the ‘fuses’ in a 16-year old boy can ‘blow’ like that. You wonder about the parenting. Something has to be done.”

Nieuwenhuizen’s death came almost exactly a year after a Dutch amateur soccer player fatally kicked a 77-year-old fan following a match.