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Soccer referee punched by player in Utah dies

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:38 p.m. HST, May 05, 2013

MURRAY, Utah >> Ricardo Portillo's daughters had begged him to stop refereeing in a soccer league because of the growing risk of violence from angry players.

Now they're faced with planning his funeral after he succumbed to injuries late Saturday that had put him in a coma for a week since a 17-year-old goalie punched him in the head.

Authorities say the teen punched Portillo after the youth was called for a foul and issued a yellow card.

"The suspect was close to Portillo and punched him once in the face as a result of the call," Unified police spokesman Justin Hoyal said in a statement.

The suspect has been booked into juvenile detention on suspicion of aggravated assault. Hoyal said authorities will consider additional charges since the 46-year-old Salt Lake City man has died.

Hoyal said an autopsy is planned. No cause of death was released.

Portillo suffered swelling in his brain and had been listed in critical condition, Dr. Shawn Smith said Thursday at the Intermountain Medical Center in the Salt Lake City suburb of Murray.

The victim's family spoke publicly of Portillo's plight this past week, but has asked for privacy, Hoyal said.

The unaffiliated soccer league, Liga Continental de Fútbol, updated its Facebook posting today with a tribute to Portillo including a number of photographs of him refereeing and playing soccer. It also set up a bank account to accept donations for his family. No plans have been announced for a funeral or memorial services.

Mario Vazquez, the league president who also was a friend and worked with Portillo, said today everyone in the league had the greatest respect for him.

"We will miss him at the soccer fields. He loved the game and loved doing his job. Ricardo always had a great sense of humor and loved being in the service of others," Vazquez said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Portillo family during this difficult time. Ricardo will always be with us," he said.

Daughter Johana Portillo, 26, said last week that she wasn't at the April 27 game in the Salt Lake City suburb of Taylorsville, but she said she's been told by witnesses and detectives that the player hit her father in the side of the head.

"When he was writing down his notes, he just came out of nowhere and punched him," she said. She did not immediately respond to a text message request for comment The Associated Press sent her today.

Accounts from a police report, Portillo's daughter and others offer further detail what occurred.

The teenager was playing goalie during a game at Eisenhower Junior High School in Taylorsville when Portillo issued him a yellow card for pushing an opposing forward trying to score. In soccer, a yellow card is given as a warning to a player for an egregious violation of the rules. Two yellow cards lead to a red card and expulsion from the game.

The teenager, quite a bit heavier than Portillo, began arguing with the referee, then punched him in the face. Portillo seemed fine at first, then asked to be held because he felt dizzy. He sat down and started vomiting blood, triggering his friend to call an ambulance.

When police arrived around noon, the teenager was gone and Portillo was laying on the ground in the fetal position. Through translators, Portillo told emergency workers that his face and back hurt and he felt nauseous. He had no visible injuries and remained conscious. He was considered to be in fair condition when they took him to the Intermountain Medical Center.

But when Portillo arrived to the hospital, he slipped into a coma with swelling in his brain. Johana Portillo called detectives to let them know his condition had worsened.

That's when detectives intensified their search for the goalie. By Saturday evening, the teenager's father agreed to bring him down to speak with police.

Portillo's family said he had been attacked before, and Johanna Portillo said she and her sisters had pleaded with their father to stop refereeing because of the risk from angry players, but he continued because he loved soccer.

"It was his passion," she said. "We could not tell him no."

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nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
I hope this kid gets what's coming to him, jail time to think about what he did.
on May 4,2013 | 11:59PM
fshnpoi wrote:
if their uable to get him tried as an adult, he'll be out @ 21.
on May 5,2013 | 03:52AM
808comp wrote:
This law of not being able to release a person's name because of their age is BS.
on May 5,2013 | 05:41AM
hanalei395 wrote:
I hope that punk gets a sucker punch while he's in prison, like he gave to that ref.
on May 5,2013 | 06:20AM
AmbienDaze wrote:
i guess you're not from hawaii. around here it's know as one "false crack".
on May 5,2013 | 08:36AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Only if you're into pidgin, natural or phony.
on May 5,2013 | 09:08AM
XML808 wrote:
Based on the article, it was false crack. Sucker punch is to the guts.
on May 5,2013 | 09:51AM
hanalei395 wrote:
A sucker punch is taking someone by surprise...a punch coming out of nowhere.. And since you're not a boxer, may you get a sucker punch to the guts.
on May 5,2013 | 11:12AM
hikine wrote:
I agree with ya, sucker punch is the correct term used in which you get hit unexpectedly and deliberately. Hope the kid is tried as an adult and claiming temporary insanity because he lost control from getting a yellow card is a lame excuse.
on May 5,2013 | 12:34PM
AmbienDaze wrote:
it has nothing to do with pidgin, natural or phony.
locals call it a false crack.
only newbie haoles call it a sucker punch, can tell now that your screen handle is a phony one.
unless you referring to prince hanalei from glades.
on May 5,2013 | 10:18AM
hanalei395 wrote:
No, YOU PHONY.... I'm a Keiki O Ka Aina.....and Hawaiian. Locals who are not in the habit of TRYING to speak Bulaia pidgin, don't do it. Only phonies, like you, do it. I only use the old local talk...rubbah slippahs/rubber slippers, etc.
on May 5,2013 | 11:05AM
AmbienDaze wrote:
a bit sensitive now, aren't we? phonies usually are when they are called out.
keiki o ka aina, i have never heard that term used to describe oneself by any of my friends.
better quit while you think you're ahead, you starting to sound like allie.
on May 5,2013 | 02:30PM
hanalei395 wrote:
That's because...you are NOT...a Keiki O Ka Aina...and you don't get it. ...HOWEVER ...you're still a phony who is TRYING to act "local". ....(li' dat).
on May 5,2013 | 02:48PM
AmbienDaze wrote:
like i suggested, you should quit while you think you ahead.
rubbah slippahs? come on, man. don't you call them flip-flops? you're sounding a bit forced.
why not call it "suckah punch" at least we would know where you coming from.
on May 5,2013 | 03:23PM
hanalei395 wrote:
"Suckah"?....you f..... (rhymes with suckah).
on May 5,2013 | 03:42PM
hanalei395 wrote:
In other words......hele 'o'e..... yourself.
on May 5,2013 | 04:19PM
AmbienDaze wrote:
ignorant ones resort to name calling when they cannot argue based on merit.
are you a student in some hawaiian language class? or are you googling it?
too bad they don't teach you how to be civil.
god forbid if you are a parent teaching this drivel to the kids.
ma-ha-lo for this enlightening discourse.
on May 5,2013 | 06:52PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Hey, false crack local, I went DOWN TO YOUR LEVEL. Don't worry about it. Kukae 'oe.
on May 5,2013 | 07:09PM
torxman wrote:
Bulaia is over twenty years younger then me, and a lot of us locals were already saying false crack, and not sucker punch.
on May 5,2013 | 02:54PM
hanalei395 wrote:
You did, not me. Different neighborhood. And it's easier to speak pidgin than it is to learn to speak 'olelo Hawai'i.
on May 5,2013 | 03:14PM
hanalei395 wrote:
'Olelo makehewa. Ua 'ike no 'oe, i ka po'e hupo.
on May 5,2013 | 06:26PM
hanalei395 wrote:
No laila, 'a'ohe 'olelo pa'i 'ai.
on May 5,2013 | 08:43PM
Giligan wrote:
Bu Laia fo Guvna. Anybody but Hanaboosa!
on May 5,2013 | 09:05PM
torxman wrote:
THAT IS a good one. I remember driving pass Glades just to look at the all the mahuus! when we were you.
on May 5,2013 | 02:47PM
false wrote:
If that happened in HS sports, not only would the player be out, so would the entire school. I remember a HS football game where visiting fans started a fight on the field... the hosting school was put on probation the next season for not providing security. That kind of swift action by the sport governing body stops unsportsman like behavior.
on May 5,2013 | 06:48AM
miss_laulau wrote:
I hope his team members and other players, amateur and pro, have learned from this kids action.
on May 5,2013 | 06:55AM
mrluke wrote:
Are you kidding? No one has learned anything!
on May 5,2013 | 08:31AM
50skane wrote:
Was this kid into MMA and street fighting training? Sometimes with the lack of maturity they just strike out when mad using those skills..they don't get the discipline training like in a real martial arts class.
on May 5,2013 | 07:02AM
entrkn wrote:
Second degree murder as an adult
on May 5,2013 | 11:18AM
pandadaddy wrote:
Deportation would be in our best interest, once he's served his sentence.
on May 5,2013 | 03:14PM
patk wrote:
Sentence: Gently punched in the face until dead. 'Gently' because hitting him hard would be too quick and painless. Gently will take hours.
on May 5,2013 | 10:26PM
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