Suspended sentence for footballer who crashed car into sports hall after drinking

OH Leuven footballer Sofian Kiyine has received a suspended sentence for driving under the influence of alcohol, following a dramatic incident a year ago in which he lost control of his car at a roundabout and crashed into the upper wall of a sports centre. 

On 30 March 2023, the 26-year-old crashed into a sports hall in Flémalle, Liège province, where a young basketball team had just finished training. His car hit a roundabout at 140 km/h and was launched into the air. Kiyine was the only person injured, but there was significant damage to the building.

Kiyine was driving with a blood alcohol level of 1.72 promille. He admitted to having drunk alcohol and said he had felt unwell at the wheel, but had no recollection of having caused the crash. 

The prosecution had called for a four-month driving ban and a fine of 2,400 euros. The defence asked for a suspended sentence, partly because Kiyine has a clean criminal record. The court ruled that all the charges had been established, but did not impose any sentence and the offence will not appear on his criminal record.

Road safety institute Vias has criticised the Pro League and a number of football clubs following the verdict. “We hope that this accident and this ruling will shake up the world of professional football,” said spokesperson Benoit Godart. “But we’re still a long way from there.”

The scene of the crash © BELGA PHOTO BRUNO FAHY
The scene of the crash © BELGA PHOTO BRUNO FAHY

He said many footballers overestimate their driving abilities and underestimate the risks, often while driving powerful vehicles. Only a few clubs have taken action since the incident and implemented measures such as alcohol awareness sessions. The Pro League, the association of professional clubs, has not take any joint action. 

“We had several appointments, which were postponed and then cancelled. We regret that no practical action has been taken,” Godart said. “We run the risk of having to wait for another accident before action is taken.”


Sofian Kiyine appears at the police court in Liège, 29 June 2023 © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS LAMBERT / Video: The moment of the crash in March 2023 © BELGA HANDOUT VIDEO FACEBOOK/S ECHEVARRIA ZAMORANO

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