US referee dies after assault by teenage player

A recreational league soccer referee who was critically injured and in a coma after being punched by a teenage player during a game died last night, US police said.

Ricardo Portillo, 46, died at the hospital where he was being treated following an assault during a soccer game last weekend, police spokesman Justin Hoyal said.

Police have accused a 17-year-old player in a recreational soccer league of punching Mr Portillo after the man called a foul on him and issued him with a yellow card.

“The suspect was close to Portillo and punched him once in the face as a result of the call,” Mr Hoyal said in a press release.

The teenager has been booked into juvenile detention on suspicion of aggravated assault.

Mr Hoyal said authorities will consider additional charges since Mr Portillo has died.

He said an autopsy is planned.

Mr Portillo suffered swelling in his brain and had been listed in critical condition, Dr Shawn Smith said on Thursday at the Intermountain Medical Centre in the Salt Lake City suburb of Murray.

The victim’s family publicly spoke of Mr Portillo’s plight in the last week.

They have now asked for privacy as they deal with his loss, Mr Hoyal said.

Last week, Johana Portillo, 26, spoke about her father’s condition. She said that she was not at the April 27 game, but she said she has been told by witnesses and detectives that the player hit her father in the side of the head after he issued the yellow card.

“When he was writing down his notes, he just came out of nowhere and punched him,” she said.

His friends who were there told her Mr Portillo seemed fine at first, but then asked to be held because he felt dizzy. They sat him down and he started vomiting blood, triggering his friend to call an ambulance.

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