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Family of Deceased Utah Referee Blames Parents
Associated Press, May 6th, 2013 1:26PM

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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."

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2 comments
  1. Aresenal Fan
    commented on: May 6, 2013 at 3:53 p.m.
    Man, this is horrible, but attacking referees it something that happens alot in these adult rec soccer leagues. In the area were I play, it does not happen as much as it used to happen,players or fans that touch a rewferee wll get prosecuted, but 10 years ago, referee's refused to officiate in certain towns where some teams and fans would always get carried away. My deepsest condolesences to the family of Ricardo Portillo. No place in soccer for this type of behaviour.

  1. Ramon Creager
    commented on: May 8, 2013 at 9:32 a.m.
    Something is seriously wrong. People must not have any other outlet in their lives if they are getting so worked up as spectators at rec games (and as a former ref I agree about how sideline behaviour often encourages players to misbehave). Was at a recent high school game watching my daughter when opposition fans (whose team was leading!) started getting extremely obnoxious, acting like every call by the referee--who is a player, knows the game, and is scrupulously fair--was a personal insult. Several of them got very abusive and had to be talked to by the HS athletic director and the local sheriff, who happened to be at the game. They didn't seem to get that this was a game, a recreational activity amongst consenting participants, and not a purse-snatching incident. People around me were afraid. This is wrong and needs to be taken very seriously.


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