A soccer referee in Utah has died after a week in a coma, having been assaulted by a player on the field. The 17-year-old assailant punched the referee in the head after being given a yellow card.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Ricardo Portillo, 46, was busy refereeing for the La Liga Continental de Futbol on April 27 when he cited a teenage goalie for shoving another player. The 17-year-old player, upset with being given a yellow card, walked up to Portillo and punched him hard in the face. As Portillo was being rushed by ambulance to a hospital, EMS workers found he had suffered serious cranial injuries.
"The suspect was close to Portillo and punched him once in the face as a result of the call. It was initially believed that Portillo had minor injuries as a result of the assault," a Greater Salt Lake police release stated. "However, he was transported by ambulance to Intermountain Medical Center and was found to have serious internal head injuries. He was listed in critical condition."
Portillo’s condition worsened during his stay in the hospital. Utah’s KSL TV reports that Portillo soon slipped into a coma while suffering from “suffering from extreme swelling of the brain, blood loss and bleeding around the blood vessels in one area of his brain.”
On Saturday night, Portillo died from his injuries.
Soon after the assault, the suspect left the scene, but the Tribune reports that police officer Jason Huggard got his contact infomation from league coach James Yapias.
"James informed me that this was the first game that [the boy] had played as a member of his team [and that] he had tried to call the phone number for [the boy’s father] but had not received an answer," Huggard told the Tribune.
Huggard then contacted the suspect's father, and the 17-year-old player, who has not been identified by name because he is a minor, was arrested on aggravated assault on Monday. Following Portillo’s death, an upgraded charge is likely.
La Liga Continental de Futbol, which was founded in 2009 as an outlet for the area’s Hispanic youth to play soccer, reportedly plans to hire off-duty police for security in the future.