Football referee in U.S dies after being punched by player.
A football referee, in the U.S state of Utah, died Saturday night after slipping into a coma following a punch from a teenage player during a game a week ago.
Police said Ricardo Portillo, 46, of Salt Lake City passed away at the hospital, where he was being treated following the assault.
A 17-year-old player in a recreational soccer league is accused of punching Portillo after the man called a foul on him and issued him a yellow card.
The teen was booked into juvenile detention on suspicion of aggravated assault, but will receive additional charges since Portillo has died, Police spokesman Justin Hoyal said. An autopsy is planned. No cause of death was released.
Portillo’s daughter, Johana, 26, said she was told by witnesses and detectives that when her father was writing his notes, the player “just came out of nowhere and punched him,” according to news agency, AP.
Accounts from a police report, Portillo’s daughter and others further detail what happened.
The teenager was the goalkeeper during a game at Eisenhower Junior High School in Taylorsville when Ricardo Portillo issued him a yellow card for pushing an opposing forward trying to score a goal.
The player began arguing with the referee, then unleashed a punch to his 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. He 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. His daughter 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 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.”