Italian referee Daniele De Santis and his partner Eleonora Manta have been stabbed to death at their home.

The violent attack has created shockwaves around Italy, where De Santis was a well-respected official in Serie C.

Witnesses reported seeing a man fleeing the scene in Lecce holding a knife.

The identity and motives of the perpetrator are still unclear, although it is also understood that certain witnesses heard Manta shouting the name of the attacker.

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Of De Santis, the Italian refereeing association released a statement calling him “a brave and humble man, and a promising referee”.

De Santis was due to officiate a Coppa Italia tie on Thursday between Monopoli and Modena. The home for trending sports news.