The brother-in-law of Ricardo Portillo, the Utah recreational league referee who died in a coma on Saturday due to a head wound received from an angry soccer player, said the
teenager who punched Portillo is not solely to blame. "It's not the ignorance of the child, it's the poor manners of the parents," Pedro Lopez, a former professional player and a
referee himself, said in an interview with the Associated Press. Over the years, Lopez has seen a troubling trend emerge: "The yells and insults from the sideline from the parents make kids more
violent,” he said. “Remember that we are human beings, and we make mistakes. Don't take justice into your own hands."
It seems that the only mistake 46-year-old Portillo made was not sending off the perpetrator. According to an earlier report, Portillo issued the Eisenhower Junior High School goalkeeper, whose name won’t be revealed because he is a minor, a yellow card for pushing the opposing team’s forward as he was trying to score. If the goalie was the last man keeping the forward from scoring, then it should have been a red. Regardless, as Portillo was putting his name in the book, the 17-year-old keeper came out of nowhere and punched Portillo in the side of the head. Although he seemed fine at first, Portillo started feeling dizzy, then started vomiting blood, at which point an ambulance was called. Portillo would remain in the hospital for a week before passing away on Saturday.
According to Portillo’s daughter, Johana, this was not the first time he had suffered a violent attack as a referee: he suffered broken ribs and broken legs in two previous attacks from angry players. After those incidents, Portillo’s daughters urged him to quit, but he said he could not. "It was his passion," Johana said. "We could not tell him no."