Soccer Ref Dies After Punch From Player

Ricardo Portillo had slipped into a coma after Utah teen hit him
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 5, 2013 6:17 AM CDT
Soccer Ref Dies After Punch From Player
Johana Portillo and sister Ana Portillo hold hands while Dr. Shawn Smith looks on, Thursday, May 2, 2013, at Intermountain Medical Center, in Murray, Utah.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

A 46-year-old soccer referee who was punched by a teenage player during a game and later slipped into a coma has died, police said. Ricardo Portillo of Salt Lake City passed away at the hospital, where he was being treated following the assault last weekend, a police spokesman said last night. Police have accused a 17-year-old player in a recreational soccer league of punching Portillo after the man called a foul and issued him a yellow card.

"The suspect was close to Portillo and punched him once in the face as a result of the call," he said. The teen, whose name hasn't been released because of his age, has been booked into juvenile detention on suspicion of aggravated assault; authorities are considering additional charges since Portillo died. An autopsy is planned. No cause of death was released. Portillo's family said he had been attacked before, and daughter Johanna Portillo said she and her sisters begged 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." (More referee stories.)

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