Shock in Italy as Serie C referee Daniele De Santis and his model girlfriend are stabbed to death at their home and police launch murder investigation after suspect fled the scene
- Daniele De Santis and his girlfriend Eleonora Manta were killed on Monday
- The couple were tragically murdered at their home on Monday in Leece
- De Santis was a referee in Serie C – Italy’s third-highest football division
- The 33-year-old was due to referee a Coppa Italia first-round tie on Wednesday
Italian football is in mourning after a professional referee and his girlfriend have been stabbed to death at their home in Lecce.
Daniele De Santis, 33, who officiated predominately in Serie C – Italy‘s third-highest division – was tragically killed on Monday along with his partner and model Eleonora Manta, 30.
Police have launched an investigation into the murder of the couple.
Italian ref Daniele De Santis and girlfriend Eleonora Manta have been murdered at their home
According to Italian publication La Repubblica, De Santis’ body was found on the second-floor staircase of their apartment complex, with Manta’s discovered inside their home.
Furthermore it is claimed that a man was seen running from the scene with a knife after neighbours were alerted by screaming.
Police are yet to have formally identified a suspect with La Repubblica adding that despite the presence of CCTV cameras in the vicinity of the incident the man in question ‘acted with his face covered and was seen leaving the door with a backpack on his shoulders.’
Head of the Italian Referee Association Marcello Nicchi has expressed his distress at the woeful news.
‘I am shocked by this tragedy,’ he told Gazzetto dello Sport.
‘We still know very little about the case. The thing I can say is that we are in close contact with the family and with all the people in the section [of the association].’
The Italian Professional Football League, from which De Santis officiated in, have also echoed Nicchi’s sentiments.
De Santis, a referee in Italy’s third division – Serie C, had officiated in 130 competitive matches
‘No words can describe our pain for the premature death of referee Daniele De Santis and his partner Eleonora,’ they tweeted on Tuesday.
‘We want to remember him with the smile of when he was on the pitch and for his great passion for Serie C, which he considered a family.’
Former Serie C president also announced a heartfelt tribute: ‘No words can express the grief of the Pro Liga, its officials, clubs and players for the premature death of referee Daniele De Santis and his partner Eleonora,’ he said.
‘We remember his smile when on the pitch and his passion for Serie C, which he regarded as a family.
‘Violence destroys, and it has taken away two young people with hopes and dreams. It is the number one enemy to oppose in all its forms.’
De Santis had officiated 130 competitive matches and was due to be the man in the middle for Wednesday night’s first-round Coppa Italia affair between Monopoli and Modena.
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