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Soccer Referee Ricardo Portillo, Punched by Teen Player, Dies

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on May 06, 2013 1:50 PM

A Utah father and soccer referee died Saturday, one week after being punched in the face by a teenage soccer player.

Ricardo Portillo, 46, slipped into a coma following severe internal head injuries from the teen's assault April 27. It all happened because Portillo had given the player a yellow card, reports CNN.

Although Portillo's family has begun to grieve, they also want justice.

Youth Sports, Youth Crime

The 17-year-old suspect who is charged with punching Richard Portillo in the face was arrested last week; his name has not been released due to his age, reports ABC News.

Many laud the beneficial effects that team sports have on keeping children away from crime and violence, but not in this case. The Fut International program, a soccer league for Hispanic players between 5 and 17 years old, didn't keep this teen from being charged with aggravated assault.

Any player who strikes a referee or threatens to punch one after a foul or poor call may be found guilty of assault.

An assault can be "aggravated" when the attacker causes serious injuries, and in Portillo's case, those injuries lead to his death.

The League's Response

The Fut International soccer league responded by stating that they have a "no-tolerance" policy for violence toward any person in a game, reports CNN, and they kick out any players who violate that policy.

This policy is probably little comfort to Portillo's daughters, who have suffered the loss of their father.

May Be Charged as An Adult

The teen suspect who allegedly punched Portillo into an early grave is currently sitting in juvenile detention, but he may be charged as an adult.

Under Utah law, a minor who is 16 years or older who commits an aggravated assault which results in serious bodily injury to the victim can be charged as an adult.

It remains uncertain whether the teen player will face adult charges, but the dead referee's family will continue to seek justice for their loss. That could mean a potential wrongful death lawsuit in addition to possible criminal liability.

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