Skip to content

Utah soccer referee dies after teen punches him in the face

May 5, 2013, 8:12 AM EDT

Referee Punched

Horrible news out of Utah late last night as a soccer referee has died after slipping into a coma following being punched in the face by a teenage player during a game played on Saturday April 27th.

Ricardo Portillo of Salt Lake City passed away at Intermountain Medical Center where he was being treated for a punch he received after whistling a 17 year old player for a foul and issuing him a yellow card. The player, who has not been named because of his age, reportedly threw a single punch at Portillo.

The punch caused Portillo to suffer swelling in his brain, landing him in critical condition. While no cause of death has been released, a planned autopsy is expected to confirm the punch as the proximate cause.

Police continue to collect details of the incident and as of now, most are based on hearsay. But it appears that the teen was playing goalkeeper when he pushed an opposing forward who was in the midst of a goal scoring opportunity. Portillo deemed the contact to be egregious enough to warrant a caution.

The player immediately began arguing with Portillo before unleashing a punch to the side of the referee’s head. Portillo was reportedly writing down the booking at the time of the punch. Following the punch Portillo appeared to be OK but then claimed he felt dizzy. He sat down and started vomiting blood, at which time his friend called an ambulance.

When police arrived at Eisenhower Junior High School in Taylorsville, the goalkeeper was nowhere to be found. Portillo was conscious but in the fetal position complaining of nausea and pain in his face and back. EMT’s transported him to the hospital in fair condition but soon after arriving he slipped into a coma with swelling in his brain.

Detectives searched for the player and his father brought the 17 year old in to speak with police.

Apparently, this is not the first time Portillo had been attacked in a match. Portillo’s family claims he had been attacked before, and the referee’s daughter, 26 year old Johanna Portillo, said she and her sisters begged their father to stop refereeing because of the risk from angry players.

Portillo refused, however, because of his love for soccer. “It was his passion,” she said. “We could not tell him no.”

Following the incident the player was booked into juvenile detention on suspicion of aggravated assault. With Portillo’s death, the teen will now be charged with homicide, likely manslaughter. The major determination of the player’s punishment will be whether or not he is charged as an adult. In Utah, there are several circumstances under which a juvenile may be tried in adult court. These include cases where the juvenile is fourteen years or older and has been charged with a serious felony.

Latest Posts
  1. 2015 Gold Cup: With the rest of CONCACAF making strides, this is USMNT’s chance to show they are, too

    Jul 6, 2015, 10:14 PM EDT

    Jurgen Klinsmann, USMNT Getty Images

    While the rest of CONCACAF closes the gap on the USA and Mexico, it’s time for the USMNT to show they’re still improving, too.

  2. New York City mayor could give USWNT ticker tape parade in Manhattan

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:56 PM EDT

    United States AP

    Are Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd the next athletes to be seen parading down the Canyon of Heroes?

  3. Study names Raheem Sterling most valuable young player in Europe

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:12 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Newcastle United - Premier League Getty Images

    The only question is, who’s willing to pay the price?

  4. After Women’s World Cup triumph, Wambach, Ellis face questions about 2016 Olympics

    Jul 6, 2015, 8:17 PM EDT

    150706-Wambach-Ellis Getty Images

    Will Abby Wambach play at the 2016 Olympics in Rio? She hasn’t yet said.

  5. Real Madrid rejects FC Porto bid for Iker Casillas

    Jul 6, 2015, 7:20 PM EDT

    Real Madrid CF v Getafe CF - La Liga Getty Images

    The goalkeeper’s agent has said Casillas would like a move to Portugal, but Real is playing hardball.

  6. 2015 Copa America: Champions Chile dominate Team of the Tournament

    Jul 6, 2015, 6:26 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwnjyju2ntc3mgexowfjytvhodjkzgu5ytbhmtc3ywqw AP

    In the world of South American football, everything is coming up Chile.

  7. Etienne Capoue joins Watford for club record transfer fee

    Jul 6, 2015, 5:31 PM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C3-TOTTENHAM-ASTERAS TRIPOLIS Getty Images

    After a failed spell at Tottenham, the French midfielder is now a Hornet.

  8. 2015 Gold Cup preview: United States look to defend title

    Jul 6, 2015, 4:37 PM EDT

    Championship - 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Getty Images

    The Gold Cup kicks off tomorrow as Jurgen Klinsmann and the USMNT look to repeat as champions of CONCACAF.

  9. Barcelona officially announce signing of Arda Turan…for now

    Jul 6, 2015, 3:43 PM EDT

    Real Madrid CF v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second Leg Getty Images

    A strange clause in the contract allows Barca to sell the midfielder back to Atletico by July 20.

  10. Former FIFA inspector of 2018, 2022 World Cup bids banned by FIFA; Was leery of Russia, Qatar

    Jul 6, 2015, 3:22 PM EDT

    DOHA, QATAR - SEPTEMBER 16:  Qatar 2022 Bid Chairman H E Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani makes a presentation to chief FIFA inspector Harold Mayne-Nicholls to bring to a close FIFA's three day visit to the Gulf state at the Four Seasons hotel on September 16, 2010 in Doha, Qatar.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images for Qatar 2022) Getty Images

    Like the heavily-redacted Garcia report, you can’t help but think we won’t have details until we’re watching the court cases and trials of the arraigned.

  11. Bobby Wood finds a home with 2.Bundesliga side Union Berlin

    Jul 6, 2015, 2:19 PM EDT

    BRAUNSCHWEIG, GERMANY - APRIL 27: Bobby Wood of Aue in action during the Second Bundesliga match between Eintracht Braunschweig and Erzgebirge Aue at Eintracht Stadion on April 27, 2015 in Braunschweig, Germany.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The striker has signed a three-year deal with the second division side.

  12. Steve Nash — yes, that Steve Nash — registered with NPSL side New York Cosmos B

    Jul 6, 2015, 1:46 PM EDT

    Steve Nash

    The Cosmos B can afford to trot out Nash, considering they are 8-0-1 with a plus-34 goal differential under head coach Alecko Eskandarian.

  13. Official: Andrea Pirlo announces his arrival at New York City FC (video)

    Jul 6, 2015, 11:01 AM EDT

    pirlo Getty Images

    Pirlo says an American arrival has been in the cards for a while.

  14. GLORY IN PHOTOS: Our favorite shots from the USWNT’s winning evening in Vancouver

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:51 AM EDT

    VANCOUVER, BC - JULY 05:  Julie Johnston #19 of United States of America celebrates after winning the  FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 final match between USA and Japan at BC Place Stadium on July 5, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images) Getty Images

    Plenty more flag-waving winners, emotional players, and post-World Cup couple smooches leap off the Women’s World Cup wire. Shall we look at a few?

  15. With legendary Wambach serving as super sub, the USWNT spun a team title tale

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:17 AM EDT

    USA's head coach Jill Ells (R) celebrate their win over Japan with Abby Wambach after the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup final at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia on July 5, 2015.   AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The U.S. women are World Cup champions for the third time thanks to a full team effort that belied its star-first reputation.

  16. CONCACAF lays out reform plan post-scandal: “People are right to be skeptical”

    Jul 6, 2015, 8:23 AM EDT

    MIAMI BEACH, FL - MAY 27:  FBI agents carry boxes from the headquarters of CONCACAF after it was raided on May 27, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida. The raid is part of an international investigation of FIFA where nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives were charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies.  (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images) Getty Images

    CONCACAF lawyer Sam Gandhi’s tone hits all the right conciliatory notes, something that FIFA has been unable to do it in its response under Sepp Blatter.

  17. Southampton, Atletico Madrid in legal battle over Alderweireld rights as Spurs, City wait

    Jul 6, 2015, 7:57 AM EDT

    Aston Villa v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Despite the love heaped on Clyne and Ryan Bertrand last season, Alderweireld was perhaps only second to Jose Fonte in the Saints’ defensive performance pecking order.

Featured video

PST Extra: Done deals & transfer gossip