Soccer ref punched by 17-year-old player dies - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Soccer ref punched by 17-year-old player dies

Posted: Updated:
Daughter of soccer official Daughter of soccer official
SALT LAKE CITY -

The oldest daughter of the Utah soccer referee who died Saturday a week after a teenage player punched him in the head hopes to forgive the young man who did it - but not yet.
    
"I will, but not today; it's too soon," said Johana Portillo, 26, speaking Sunday night at a vigil to honor her father, Ricardo Portillo. "He was a father, he was a friend, he was a grandfather; he left a whole family behind. They should think before they do something stupid."
    
Police have accused a 17-year-old player in a recreational soccer league of punching Ricardo Portillo, 46, after he called a foul on him and issued him a yellow card.
    
Portillo died Saturday night after a week in a coma.
    
Nearly 100 family and friends gathered at a candlelight vigil Sunday night on the front lawn of the Salt Lake City home of Ricardo Portillo. Wearing white shirts and holding signs that read, "In loving memory of Ricky," family and friends stood around a table that had a picture of Portillo raising his arms in victory, with flowers and candles surrounding it.
    
The suspect, whose name is withheld because he's a minor, has been booked into juvenile detention on suspicion of aggravated assault. Authorities will consider additional charges since Portillo has passed away. An autopsy is planned. No cause of death was released.
    
Johana Portillo said Sunday she doesn't care what punishment the teenager gets - saying nothing will bring her father back.
    
"When he did that, he took a part of me with him," she said, crying. "He took my daddy away from me."
    
She added: "I feel sorry for him. I feel for his family. But if he was old enough to do what he did, then he's responsible to pay for it."
    
Pedro Lopez, his brother-in-law and a fellow soccer referee, said the teenager made a mistake and isn't solely to blame. He said he's been involved in soccer his entire life, playing and refereeing, and seen a troubling trend emerge.
    
"It's not the ignorance of the child, it's the poor manners of the parents," said Lopez in Spanish, who played soccer professionally. "The yells and insults from the sideline from the parents make kids more violent."
    
Lopez, Johana Portillo and youth soccer coach James Yapias called on athletes around the world to hold their tempers in check so another family doesn't have to suffer - and to bring something positive from Ricardo Portillo's death.
    
Yapias, a longtime friend of Ricardo Portillo coach in the same league, said coaches and parents need to do a better job teaching children about sportsmanship and being non-violent. He also called for more police presence at games. Portillo's death is a reminder that life can change in a second, he said.
    
"We all love this sport," Yapias said. "But we all need to respect the rules."
    
Johana Portillo said she hopes her father's death leads to more security at sporting events and better self-control from players. She said her father had been attacked by players twice before in his eight years refereeing soccer matches - even having his ribs and legs broken.
    
Lopez said players need to respect referees and remember it's a sport meant to relieve stress - not cause pain.
    
"Remember that we are human beings, and we make mistakes," Lopez said in Spanish. "Don't take justice into your own hands."
    
The former professional soccer player said he plans to continue working as a referee. He said leaving it behind would be abandoning his passion. He said he'll do so remembering Ricardo Portillo.
    
Ricardo Portillo's daughters had begged him to stop refereeing in a soccer league because of the growing risk of violence from angry players. But, like Lopez, Portillo told his daughters he couldn't quit.
    
"It was his passion," she said. "We could not tell him no."
    
Now his three daughters are faced with planning his funeral after he succumbed to injuries late Saturday that had put him in a coma for a week since teenager goalie punched him in the head.
    
Accounts from a police report, Portillo's daughter and others offer further detail what occurred.
    
The teenager was playing goalie during a game at Eisenhower Junior High School in Taylorsville when Portillo issued him a yellow card for pushing an opposing forward trying to score. In soccer, a yellow card is given as a warning to a player for an egregious violation of the rules. Two yellow cards lead to a red card and expulsion from the game.
    
The teenager, quite a bit heavier than Portillo, began arguing with the referee, then punched him in the face. Portillo seemed fine at first, then asked to be held because he felt dizzy. He sat down and started vomiting blood, triggering his friend to call an ambulance.
    
When police arrived around noon, the teenager was gone and Portillo was laying on the ground in the fetal position. Through translators, Portillo told emergency workers that his face and back hurt and he felt nauseous. He had no visible injuries and remained conscious. He was considered to be in fair condition when they took him to the Intermountain Medical Center.
    
But when Portillo arrived to the hospital, he slipped into a coma with swelling in his brain. Johana Portillo called detectives to let them know his condition had worsened.
    
That's when detectives intensified their search for the goalie. By Saturday evening, the teenager's father agreed to bring him down to speak with police.
    
Johana Portillo said she last spoke to him that night before he fell into a coma. She grabbed his hand and told him he was going to be all right. He held her hand tightly and said, "no." Within seconds, doctors ushered her out of the room and he lost consciousness.
    
She said Sunday night, with tears streaming down her face, that her father will always be in her heart.
    
"It's going to be very difficult," she said. "But I know he's going to help us from heaven."
 

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Mysterious "woman in black" spotted in Tennessee

    Mysterious "woman in black" spotted in Tennessee

    A mysterious figure is capturing the attention of social media. She's been nicknamed "the woman in black" and she's been spotted in different parts of east Tennessee including Madisonville, Athens, Sweetwater and now Morgan County.
    A mysterious figure is capturing the attention of social media. She's been nicknamed "the woman in black" and she's been spotted in different parts of east Tennessee including Madisonville, Athens, Sweetwater and now Morgan County.
  • Family & friends poisoned by fish caught on vacation

    Family & friends poisoned by fish caught on vacation

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 8:00 AM EDT2014-07-22 12:00:09 GMT
    Karen Goncalves gave her son, Austin, a dream vacation fishing in the Bahamas. The 15-year-old loves fishing and spends much of his spare time on the water. They went with a friend of his and Karen's boyfriend. But a few days into the vacation they all got violently ill.They were rushed to a hospital for treatment and placed on IV fluids, but the medical staff didn't immediately know what was wrong. They were all flow...
    Karen Goncalves gave her son, Austin, a dream vacation fishing in the Bahamas. The 15-year-old loves fishing and spends much of his spare time on the water. They went with a friend of his and Karen's boyfriend. But a few days into the vacation they all got violently ill.They were rushed to a hospital for treatment and placed on IV fluids, but the medical staff didn't immediately know what was wrong. They were all flow...
  • Teen girl missing 9 months now back at home in New Hampshire

    Teen girl missing 9 months now back at home in New Hampshire

    Monday, July 21 2014 10:05 PM EDT2014-07-22 02:05:37 GMT
    Photo from Conway, NH policePhoto from Conway, NH police
    A 15-year-old New Hampshire girl who disappeared while on her way home from school nine months ago is safely home with her family, the state attorney general said Monday. Abigail Hernandez was reunited with her family on Sunday evening,
    A 15-year-old New Hampshire girl who disappeared while on her way home from school nine months ago is safely home with her family, the state attorney general said Monday. Abigail Hernandez was reunited with her family on Sunday evening,
  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • Couple arrested for having sex on Cortez Beach in front of beachgoers

    Couple arrested for having sex on Cortez Beach in front of beachgoers

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 1:08 PM EDT2014-07-22 17:08:35 GMT
    Bradenton Beach police officers were dispatched to Cortez Beach after a few people called 911 and complained about a couple having sex publicly, right next to a little girl on the beach.
    Bradenton Beach police officers were dispatched to Cortez Beach after a few people called 911 and complained about a couple having sex publicly, right next to a little girl on the beach.
  • Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Thursday, July 10 2014 8:01 PM EDT2014-07-11 00:01:10 GMT
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
  • Durham mom says she didn't try to give away kids on Craigslist

    Durham mom says she didn't try to give away kids on Craigslist

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 12:48 AM EDT2014-07-23 04:48:05 GMT
    A mother of five says an ad she posted on Craigslist, in which she asked for someone to "take her five kids," was not what it seemed.
    A mother of five says an ad she posted on Craigslist, in which she asked for someone to "take her five kids," was not what it seemed.
Powered by WorldNow

1430 East Victory Drive
Savannah, GA 31404

Telephone: 912.651.0300
Fax: 912.651.0320
Email: newsemailalert@wsav.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.