Photo: UPDATE: Utah Soccer Ref Attacked by Player Dies
One week after being punched in the head by an angry soccer player, Utah referee Ricardo Portillo died in the hospital with his family by his side.
On Saturday, April 27, Ricardo Portillo, 46, was refereeing a match in Taylorsville, a Salt Lake City suburb, when he issued a 17-year-old player a yellow card after a foul. As he wrote down notes after the call, witnesses say Portillo was punched in the head by the angry player.
Though he appeared to be okay at first, Portillo told those around him he felt dizzy and needed help balancing. His friends say he sat down and began vomiting up blood.
Shortly after being admitted to Intermountain Medical Center on Saturday, Portillo slipped into a coma due to the swelling of his brain. One week later he died, having never regained consciousness.
The teen was located by police and was being held at a juvenile detention facility on suspicion on aggravated assault. However, now that Portillo has died, the charges against the 17-year-old are likely to change.
After Portillo died, a candlelit vigil was held outside the family’s home.
On Sunday, members of his family spoke with the media. His daughter Johana said players need to remember they are playing a game, and violence in not necessary.
“He was a father, he was a friend, he was a grandfather, he left a whole family behind,” Johana expressed. “They should think before they do something stupid.”
“I feel sorry for him. I feel for his family,” she said when asked about punishment for the teen. “But if he was old enough to do what he did, then he’s responsible to pay for it.”