Shocked spectators at an amateur football match in Brazil witnessed a referee lynched and beheaded by an angry mob after he stabbed a player.

Referee Otavio Jordao da Silva, 20, fatally stabbed footballer Josenir dos Santos Abreu, according to local reports, which happened on Sunday 30 June in Maranhao, Brazil.

Dos Santos Abreu is said to have struck the referee after questioning a decision. In retaliation, Jordao da Silva fatally stabbed the player. It is believed the referee was carrying a knife throughout the match.

Santos Abreu was taken to hospital but died of his injuries en route.

Soon after the fatal attack, a furious crowd of spectators turned their wrath on the referee. He was tied up, beaten, stoned and quartered.

The baying mob then proceeded to put Jordao da Silva's head on a stake and placed it in the middle of the football pitch.

Luiz Moraes de Souza, 27, has been arrested over the incident. He has admitted to assaulting the referee but denies killing Jordao da Silva. Police are continuing their search for two more suspects.

They are currently viewing video footage of the incident filmed by a witness with a mobile phone.

In a statement, the regional delegate of Santa Ines, Valter Costa, who is looking into the case, said: "One crime never justifies another crime. Actions likes this do not collaborate with the legality of state law."

The referee's grandmother said: "We were not there to stop this evil. I hope that justice is done, because to see someone you love die in this way is very sad."