Skip to content

Video: Family vigil held for soccer referee who died from punch

May 6, 2013, 11:35 AM EDT

Referee Punched

The family of Ricardo Portillo – the soccer referee who died early Sunday morning after he was punched in the head during a match the week before – held a vigil encouraging athletes around the world to hold their tempers in check so another family doesn’t have to suffer.

Wearing white shirts and holding signs that read, “In loving memory of Ricky,” family members of the Utah soccer referee spoke at a candlelight vigil held on the front lawn of his Salt Lake City home. “He was a father, he was a friend, he was a grandfather, he left a whole family behind,” said Johana Portillo, the oldest of his three daughters. “They should think before they do something stupid.”

The 46 year old Portillo passed away following a week long coma that was the result of a brain swell, which occurred after he was punched in the head by a 17-year-old player in a recreational soccer league. The incident occured after Portillo whistled the player, who was playing goal-keeper, for a foul and issued him a yellow card. As Portillo was writing down the booking the goal-keeper punched the referee once in the side of the head. After Portillo began vomiting blood, emergency services were called and transported him to a local hospital, where he subsequently fell into the coma.

Following the incident the suspect was booked into juvenile detention on suspicion of aggravated assault. Since Portillo has passed away, authorities will now consider whether to levy heavier charges on the suspect.

Johana Portillo said she hopes to someday be able to forgive the teenager. But as of now, she can’t. As far as punishment is concerned, she thinks the teen has to answer for his actions. “I feel sorry for him. I feel for his family,” she said. “But if he was old enough to do what he did, then he’s responsible to pay for it.”

Portillo also expressed hope that her father’s death leads to more security at sporting events and better self-control from players. She claimed that before last week’s incident her father had been twice attacked by players resulting in broken ribs and legs. The incidents compelled Portillo’s daughters to beg him to stop refereeing but he told his daughters he refused citing is passion for the game.

The subject match occurred in an unaffiliated soccer league, Liga Continental de Futbol. Since his passing the league has updated its Facebook page with a tribute to Portillo and also set up a bank account to accept donations for his family.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
Latest Posts
  1. FIFA says World Cup will stay in Russia, “can achieve positive change”

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:05 AM EDT

    FBL-WC2022-FIFA-QATAR-LABOUR-SLAVERY-UNIONS Getty Images

    It can be the soccer tournament that changes Russia forever (so implies FIFA)

  2. Arturo Vidal may not stay at Juve; Shuts door on Manchester United

    Jul 25, 2014, 7:57 AM EDT

    FBL-ITA-SERIE A- JUVENTUS-PALERMO-SCUDETTO Getty Images

    The 27-year-old Chilean is very much in demand, but also happy at a Champions League club.

  3. MLS Snapshot: Real Salt Lake 3-1 Montréal Impact

    Jul 25, 2014, 1:21 AM EDT

    Olmes Garcia

    Olmes Garcia’s second half double lifted RSL.

  4. DaMarcus Beasley, introduced in Houston: I see myself as a left back

    Jul 24, 2014, 11:25 PM EDT

    DaMarcus Beasley

    Introduced to the media in Houston, Beasley said he’s move on from midfield.

  5. Wenger talks Zelalem, gets taste of U.S. obsession for potential international

    Jul 24, 2014, 10:24 PM EDT

    Wenger Getty Images

    With Wenger interview, SI had to get Zelalem out of the way first.

  6. Henry, on Suárez sale: ‘We needed more depth’

    Jul 24, 2014, 9:16 PM EDT

    BRITAIN-US-FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL Getty Images

    Reds’ owner does not want a repeat of last year’s weaknesses.

  7. Barclays Premier League LIVE: Select U.S. theaters to show games during the 2014-15 season

    Jul 24, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT

    Premier League logo

    NBC Sports and Fathom Events are taking Premier League soccer to the big screen.

  8. 11 Things From AC Milan’s Training Session in New York

    Jul 24, 2014, 7:10 PM EDT

    mario-balotelli-cosmos-1000

    Balotelli, Honda, Muntari, and more from the Rossoneri’s N.Y. training.

  9. Jorge Luis Pinto will not return as Costa Rica head coach

    Jul 24, 2014, 7:04 PM EDT

    jorge_luis_pinto AP

    Pinto will depart after failing to come to new terms with the federation.

  10. Everton adds 21-year-old Bosnian midfielder Muhamed Besic

    Jul 24, 2014, 6:12 PM EDT

    muhamed_besic AP

    After appearing three times at Brazil 2014, Besic is set to add depth behind Gareth Barry and James McCarthy.

  11. Serbian club FK Jagodina set to sign Freddy Adu

    Jul 24, 2014, 5:21 PM EDT

    Credit: Blackpool Gazette Credit: Blackpool Gazette

    Adu close to joining the 10th club in his 11-year career.

  12. U.S. prospect Rubin suffers broken nose, concussion with Utrecht

    Jul 24, 2014, 4:08 PM EDT

    rubio rubin

    After seeing time with the senior squad, 18-year-old prospect will be sidelined indefinitely.

  13. WATCH: Radamel Falcao’s batting cage cuts send pitcher diving

    Jul 24, 2014, 3:25 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 2.45.37 PM

    The Colombian striker takes a few hacks before AS Monaco’s friendly in Miami against Atletico National.

  14. Andy Carroll’s out a week, or four months (depending on who you trust)

    Jul 24, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT

    article-2704570-1FCE5BED00000578-747_634x382 Getty Images

    Limited to just 16 matches last year after his big transfer from Liverpool to West Ham, Carroll is battling another ailment this season.

  15. Jay DeMerit’s retirement letter is as grateful, humble and classy as you’d expect

    Jul 24, 2014, 2:09 PM EDT

    South Africa Soccer WCup US Algeria AP

    The rags-to-riches defender steps away from the pitch, at least as a player, while reflecting on his career journey from North America to Europe and back.

  16. EXCLUSIVE: Manchester United’s new signing Ander Herrera focused on success

    Jul 24, 2014, 1:46 PM EDT

    Manchester United v Los Angeles Galaxy AP

    Herrera chats exclusively to PST: “If we are a humble team and we work hard, we will achieve our objectives and we will win trophies.”

  17. Son of Mexican national teamer says he’ll represent United States

    Jul 24, 2014, 1:26 PM EDT

    Twitter.com/ferarceJr Twitter.com/ferarceJr

    His dad played for El Tri, but California-born Fernando Arce Jr says his U-20 bow with the States makes him an American player “forever”

  18. Premier League on tour, Weds roundup: Five play, only Liverpool loses

    Jul 24, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Sporting Kansas City Getty Images

    Aston Villa, Manchester United and Manchester City all cruised, while Spurs had to find a late winner after coughing up a two-goal lead.

  19. Serbian boss: Freddy Adu sought by Europa, UCL clubs in Serbia, Cyprus

    Jul 24, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

    150px-FK_Jagodina_Emblem

    Goran Milanovic is hoping the former American prodigy chooses to revitalize his career with FK Jagodina in the Serbian top flight.