A Utah soccer referee is in a coma after being punched by a teenage player who was upset with one of the calls he made during a game this past weekend.
Ricardo Portillo, 46, has swelling in his brain and doctors are unsure whether he will be able to recover. He is being treated at the Intermountain Medical Center in the Salt Lake City suburb of Murray.
Portillo was punched in the head by a 17-year-old player after the veteran referee issued him a yellow card. The teen has been booked on suspicion of aggravated assault, but could be hit with more serious charges if Portillo dies.
This isn’t the first time Portillo has been injured while on the job. Angry players have previously broken his ribs and one of his legs after becoming enraged by calls.
He doesn't want to leave us," said Johana Portillo, 26, the referee’s daughter. "We hope for a miracle that he will be ok."
Johana wasn’t at the game but said she’d been told what happened.
"When he was writing down his notes, he just came out of nowhere and punched him," she said.
Apparently Ricardo seemed fine at first, but then he became dizzy and started vomiting blood. The referee has been in a coma ever since, USA Today reported.
Johana said other referees have been hurt while working for the recreational league "People don't know it's a game," she said. "We're all there to have fun, not to go and kill each other."
The teen who supposedly threw the punch has not reached out to the Portillo family.
"It's just not fair," Johana said. "This person caused us a lot of pain. I want justice for my dad, and we're going to get it. ... If he spends time in jail forever, it's not enough. They are not going to bring my daddy back."