Saturday, May 4, 2013

Utah Soccer Referee Punched by Teenage Player Dies

Utah soccer referee Ricardo Portillo, punched into a coma by a player, died Saturday, according to police.

According to the investigation, last weekend, Portillo was officiating a La Liga Continental de Futbol soccer game when he issued a yellow card to a 17-year-old player for a foul. Because soccer officiating guidelines specify the referee shall be in close proximity to a player when issuing yellow or red cards, "the suspect was close to Portillo," according to Unified police spokesman Justin Hoyal.

After displaying the card, Portillo started to enter notes into his referee's book when the suspect allegedly "punched [Portillo] once in the face." Police claim the punch caused Portillo to become faint, vomit blood and, eventually, enter into a coma. Now, it seems, the player's punch to Portillo's temple may very well be the soccer official, husband and father's cause of death. An autopsy is planned to confirm the theory.

According to Hoyal, the player "immediately [struck] that referee in the face." Hoyal also stated Portillo's serious head injuries were "a result of that assault."

The teenage player, whose name is being withheld because he is a minor, was arrested following the alleged aggravated assault. In the wake of the referee's death at the suspect's hands, authorities "will consider additional charges," which presumably may include murder and/or manslaughter. Though the suspect is presently being held at a juvenile detention facility, police indicated charges could rise to the adult level.

The player's team, which has not been identified, was playing its very first game in the league when the suspected aggravated assault occurred.

Ricardo's oldest daughter, Johana Portillo, spoke about her father's condition last week, stating that while she was not present at the fateful match, multiple witnesses and detectives working the case told her that the suspect player struck Ricardo in the side of the head: "When he was writing down his notes, [the player] just came out of nowhere and punched him."

According to the family, Ricardo Portillo previously suffered multiple assaults and batteries in La Liga, sustaining serious injury. According to daughter Johana, five years ago, a player upset with a call broke Ricardo's ribs while several years earlier, a player broke his leg. When the family urged Ricardo to quit, he declined, citing his tremendous passion for the sport. She stated that other referees who worked La Liga had been victimized as well.

In the wake of the violent battery, not only have the team and suspect player been kicked out of the league, La Liga Continental has hired off-duty police officers to provide security for future games which will continue to be played on weekends at a suburban Salt Lake City middle school.

Meanwhile, the Granite School District—whose Eisenhower Jr. High school La Liga uses for games—issued a formal warning to La Liga president Mario Vasquez stating that La Liga Continental is in danger of having its rental agreement revoked, citing not just the present assault, but also previous complaints that La Liga didn't clean up trash, violated the ban on drinking alcohol and brought and smoked tobacco products (cigarettes) on the school grounds in contravention of policy and the signed agreement.

News: Utah soccer referee punched by player dies, police say (FOX News) (5/5/13)
News: Utah soccer league hires off-duty police officers to monitor games after ref is assaulted (FOX, 5/4)
News: Family says ref in a coma after attack by teen has been assaulted before (FOX News) (5/3/13)


Gil Imber said...

RIP, Mr. Portillo. May your assailant rot in prison for a very long time....

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