Yellow Card Leads to Referee’s Death

Hailie Sandor, Staff Photographer

A recreational soccer league referee was brutally punched in the face by an angry teenage soccer player during the match he was officiating.

Ricardo Portillo died on April 27 after citing a player a yellow card for an infraction that occurred during game play. The yellow card is a caution to the player; a second results in his ejection from the game.

It was after the citation that the 17-year-old player in a rage of fury punched Portillo. Authorities thought at first Portillo suffered only minor injuries and a possible broken nose.

It was after a seven-day stay in the hospital that doctors discovered he had suffered “serious internal head injuries” police said.

His daughter Johana Portillo told CNN “He loved soccer, we just never thought this was going to happen. He loved what he did and it was his passion.” She added: “The doctor says only a miracle will bring my daddy back.” Portillo later died from his injuries.

As for the teenage soccer player, he remains in juvenile detention, initially charged with aggravated assault. Portillo’s death will most likely cause police to upgrade the charges.

This horrific event brings to mind a similar incident in the Netherlands. Police there charged two 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old who beat a 41-year-old linesman during an amateur soccer game. The linesman, Richard Nieuwenhuizen, fell into a coma and died the next day.