Skip to content

Utah soccer referee dies after teen punches him in the face

May 5, 2013, 8:12 AM EST

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. Watch Live: Newcastle vs Sunderland (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Dec 21, 2014, 7:53 AM EST

    PardewPoyet Getty Images

    The heated Tyne-Wear derby has brought us goals and fireworks of many kinds, and will be no different today as Sunderland looks to win four in a row over Newcastle for the first time ever.

  2. Tim Howard says Frank Lampard should leave Man City, start MLS season with NYCFC

    Dec 20, 2014, 10:54 PM EST

    FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-CRYSTAL PALACE FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-CRYSTAL PALACE

    Howard doesn’t think Lampard will start the MLS season with NYCFC, although he says he should.

  3. Report: Canadian international Doneil Henry to join West Ham United, pending work permit

    Dec 20, 2014, 9:51 PM EST

    Doneil Henry, Toronto FC (left) Doneil Henry, Toronto FC (left)

    Doneil Henry is reportedly close to joining West Ham, which is a surprise, to say the least.

  4. Brendan Rodgers will give Raheem Sterling a period of rest after Christmas

    Dec 20, 2014, 8:46 PM EST

    Raheem Sterling, Liverpool FC Raheem Sterling, Liverpool FC

    After logging lots of miles the last 16 months, Raheem Sterling is going to get a short rest very soon.

  5. New York City FC now focusing on Queens, Brooklyn in search for stadium site

    Dec 20, 2014, 8:04 PM EST

    Yankee Stadium Yankee Stadium

    NYCFC won’t be calling the Bronx home, but they’re still hopeful a deal can be done elsewhere in the city.

  6. Arsene Wenger says Arsenal could spend big in January, if the deals are right

    Dec 20, 2014, 7:13 PM EST

    Arsenal Training Session Arsenal Training Session

    Arsene Wenger says he’s not cheap, and that you should join him for a night out if you don’t believe him.

  7. La Liga & Serie A roundup: Barcelona keep Real Madrid close; Roma fall further behind Juventus

    Dec 20, 2014, 5:56 PM EST

    Luis Suarez, FC Barcelona Getty Images

    Barcelona are keeping things tight in Spain, while Roma are losing sight of Juventus once again.

  8. Real Madrid outclass San Lorenzo, win 2014 Club World Cup

    Dec 20, 2014, 4:33 PM EST

    Real Madrid v San Lorenzo - FIFA Club World Cup Final Real Madrid v San Lorenzo - FIFA Club World Cup Final

    Four trophies in one calendar year — it’s a good time to be Real Madrid.

  9. Stuttgarter Kickers forward scores match-winner wearing heart defibrillator (video)

    Dec 20, 2014, 3:42 PM EST

    mdzol.com mdzol.com

    After collapsing on the field in a game back in July 2013, Engelbrecht had undergone four heart surgeries to get back on the pitch.

  10. Premier League Sunday preview: Loaded morning sees Tyne-Wear Derby and Liverpool vs. Arsenal

    Dec 20, 2014, 3:16 PM EST

    FBL-ENG-PR-SUNDERLAND-NEWCASTLE Getty Images

    Things are going to be extra intense all Sunday morning, so put on a pot of coffee and enjoy the rush.

  11. Bundesliga wrap: Robben keeps up Bayern’s history-making pace, BVB falls… again

    Dec 20, 2014, 2:25 PM EST

    1. FSV Mainz 05 v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga Getty Images

    Pep Guardiola’s side carries a gaudy plus-37 goal differential, is 9-0 at home and has five wins and three draws on the road.

  12. Roberto Martinez “very disappointed” as Everton’s inconsistency continues

    Dec 20, 2014, 2:15 PM EST

    Roberto Martínez has exceeded early expectations at Everton, his "transition period" seeing the Toffees drop just one of their first 15 league games. (Source: Getty Images.) Getty Images

    Martinez can’t put his finger on Everton’s struggles, but does think his side must defend better.

  13. Stoppage time goal decides inaugural Indian Super League title in front of nearly 37,000 in Mumbai

    Dec 20, 2014, 1:40 PM EST

    Closing Ceremony Of Indian Super League Football Tournament Getty Images

    Mumbai was the home of the title match, with Atletico de Kolkata knocking off the Kerala Blasters 1-0.

  14. Premier League roundup: Goals galore as Saints, Tottenham, QPR, Man City win

    Dec 20, 2014, 1:33 PM EST

    FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-CRYSTAL PALACE FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-CRYSTAL PALACE

    Seven games took place in the PL on Saturday. Here’s videos, analysis, recaps and more.

  15. VIDEO — Christian Benteke turns Evans inside out to give Villa a 1-0 lead over Manchester United

    Dec 20, 2014, 12:45 PM EST

    Aston Villa v Manchester United  - Premier League Getty Images

    Benteke dances for space before lashing a curler into the goal to give Villa a 1-0 lead. It’s one of those “Why we watch” goals.

  16. WATCH: Match of the Day – Recap Saturday’s madness in the Premier League

    Dec 20, 2014, 12:40 PM EST

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Match of the Day begins at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Watch it live online, here.

  17. VIDEO: Tottenham Hotspur’s Erik Lamela scores stunning goal

    Dec 20, 2014, 12:34 PM EST

    Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley - Premier League Getty Images

    Watch Lamela scored a stunning strike to give Spurs another win.

  18. After “two points dropped” at Aston Villa, Wayne Rooney says media was driving title talk

    Dec 20, 2014, 12:25 PM EST

    Aston Villa v Manchester United - Premier League Getty Images

    United captain Wayne Rooney wasn’t interested in discussing his club’s failure to keep up with Manchester City.

  19. Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Burnley: Lamela’s stunner seals win for Spurs

    Dec 20, 2014, 12:13 PM EST

    Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley - Premier League Getty Images

    Spurs seal third-straight win in all competitions to move up to sixth.

  20. West Ham United 2-0 Leicester City: Carroll, Downing have Hammers blowing bubbles

    Dec 20, 2014, 12:05 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    The Foxes are six points back of safety and share the worst goal differential in England’s top flight (minus-14).

Featured video

Week 17: PL Saturday recap