Referee Ricardo Portillo has died from injuries suffered after being punched in a Utah recreational league soccer game.
It was with great sadness that RedCardTheRef tweeted earlier this week on the status of Portillo. The 46-year-old Salt Lake City resident slipped into a coma earlier this week following an alledged assault during a match. Only a few days later we learned that he had succumbed to his injuries at the Intermountain Medical Center on Saturday night.
Police have accused a 17-year-old goalkeeper in the league of punching Portillo, after he was called for a foul and issued a yellow card in a match on April 27th.
According to witnesses and policed detectives Portillo booked the player for an offence and was taking notes when he was struck in the side of the head.
According to reports witnesses said the referee appeared to be alright after the punch but then felt dizzy, sat down and started vomiting blood. His condition deteriorated rapidly and he was rushed to hospital and as swelling on his brain worsened, he slipped into a coma later that day.
During a Sunday night vigil, members of the Portillo family called on soccer players and athletes around the world to control their tempers so another family doesn’t need to go through the same ordeal.
“Remember that we are human beings, and yes we make mistakes too,” Portillo’s brother-in-law Ricardo Lopez told the gathering in Spanish. “Don’t take the law into your own hands.”
Meanwhile Salt Lake City’s Liga Continental de Futbol did a tribute to Portillo on their facebook page and reminded its friends of the memorial service.
The latest incident is part of an alarming trend of violence against soccer match officials.
Late December a match official in Holland died of injuries after being beaten by a group of players in a youth match.
41-year-old linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen collapsed and was rushed to hospital after being kicked and beaten by young players from the Amsterdam club Nieuw Sloten.