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. MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 1-1 FC Dallas

    Apr 25, 2015, 12:21 AM EDT

    Colorado Rapids vs Columbus Crew Colorado Rapids vs Columbus Crew

    FC Dallas took the lead into halftime, but a second half red card to Blas Perez let Colorado sneak back for a point.

  2. Tony Pulis: I’m more than just an escape artist

    Apr 24, 2015, 11:10 PM EDT

    Crystal Palace v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

    Tony Pulis is known for turning around struggling clubs, but the West Brom manager says he is more than just a last resort.

  3. MLS Snapshot: Chicago Fire 1-0 New York City FC

    Apr 24, 2015, 10:20 PM EDT

    Toronto FC v Chicago Fire Getty Images

    David Accam’s first MLS goal was enough for Chicago to down a NYCFC side that played more than 60 minutes a man down.

  4. Americans Abroad preview: Howard and Guzan face Manchester opposition

    Apr 24, 2015, 9:38 PM EDT

    Everton v Burnley - Premier League Getty Images

    Tim Howard takes on his former club Manchester United, while Brad Guzan looks to keep Manchester City off the scoresheet.

  5. Tottenham looking to sell Adebayor at season’s end

    Apr 24, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT

    FBL-ENG-FA CUP-TOTTENHAM-LEICESTER Getty Images

    Finding a club to pay his $150,000 per week wages is the only problem for Spurs.

  6. Premier League Preview: West Bromwich Albion vs. Liverpool

    Apr 24, 2015, 7:46 PM EDT

    Aston Villa v Liverpool - FA Cup Semi-Final Aston Villa v Liverpool - FA Cup Semi-Final

    The Baggies must defend The Hawthorns as Liverpool is barely clinging on to top-four dreams.

  7. Hull City players face pay cuts up to 50-percent if relegated

    Apr 24, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    Swansea City v Hull City - Premier League Getty Images

    Clinging onto safety in the Premier League, Hull City players now have some added incentive to avoid the drop.

  8. Van Gaal: Ryan Giggs will be the next manager at Manchester United

    Apr 24, 2015, 5:37 PM EDT

    Manchester United Training and Press Conference Manchester United Training and Press Conference

    Still in his first season as manager at Old Trafford, LVG has already endorsed his top assistant to be the next in line.

  9. Premier League Preview: Manchester City vs. Aston Villa

    Apr 24, 2015, 4:42 PM EDT

    Can Tim Sherwood and Aston Villa continue their climb up the table at the Etihad?

  10. SportsWorld: Jose Fonte talks playing with Ronaldo, shares thoughts on MLS

    Apr 24, 2015, 3:42 PM EDT

    Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    PST’s Joe Prince-Wright sat down with the Southampton defender to see how the Saints’ skipper has evolved into one of the best center-backs in the Premier League.

  11. VIDEO: PST Extra asks if Liverpool, Manchester City should get new managers

    Apr 24, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Manchester City Getty Images

    In the latest PST Extra we take a quick look at why whispers about managers losing their jobs at Liverpool, Man City are getting louder.

  12. Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Time for the underdogs to shine

    Apr 24, 2015, 2:06 PM EDT

    Chelsea v Burnley - Premier League Getty Images

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor predicts the scores in the PL this weekend.

  13. Could Tottenham share their stadium with an NFL team? Here’s how it will work

    Apr 24, 2015, 1:25 PM EDT

    SPURSSTADIUM1

    Spurs are reportedly in talks with the NFL about housing a franchise in their new stadium.

  14. VIDEO: PST Extra picks Premier League’s Best XI from 2014-15 season. Agree?

    Apr 24, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Getty Images

    What do you think of these 11 players getting Team of the Year honors?

  15. WATCH: NBC Sports’ Premier League TV schedule – Week 34

    Apr 24, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every PL game during Week 34.

  16. Jose Mourinho: “Arsene Wenger is not my rival” ahead of Arsenal vs. Chelsea

    Apr 24, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    WengerMourinho Getty Images

    Mourinho stirs the pot before huge clash with Arsenal on Sunday.

  17. Premier League Preview: Southampton vs. Tottenham Hotspur

    Apr 24, 2015, 9:25 AM EDT

    Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Can Saints get revenge on Pochettino as he returns to St Mary’s? Watch live, Saturday, 7:45 a.m ET.

  18. Injury update on Chelsea’s Diego Costa. Is he fit for London derby vs. Arsenal?

    Apr 24, 2015, 8:10 AM EDT

    Chelsea v Liverpool - Capital One Cup Semi-Final: Second Leg Getty Images

    Jose Mourinho has delivered an update on Costa’s progress ahead of Sunday’s big game.

  19. Pochettino: Avoiding Europa League could help Spurs make Champions League next year

    Apr 23, 2015, 11:17 PM EDT

    Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham Hotspur FC Getty Images

    Mauricio Pochettino feels that any team not having to contend with Europa League has a better chance of qualifying for Champions League.

Featured video

Should Chelsea be more entertaining?