Ricardo Portillo is just the second official in the United States reported to have died due to referee assault, The New York Times said Tuesday. But I have a feeling he may not be the last.
The Times did an opus on the tragic story of Ricardo Portillo, 46, who died in suburban Salt Lake City just a week after being punched in the head by a 17-year-old player he had just tagged for a foul.
Portillo had been in a coma for a week following the incident April 27. He suffered bleeding on his brain, which caused it to swell, ultimately leading to his demise.
According to The Times, attacks on referees have been on an upswing in recent years. Portillo, for example, suffered several broken ribs five years ago after being assaulted at a game, his daughter said.
Late last year, a soccer official was assaulted by a group of players and died in the Netherlands, The Times reported. Earlier this year a referee in Spain lost his spleen after being attacked by a player, and just last week a parent was arrested for slapping a Little League umpire in New Jersey, according to The Times.
Portillo was officiating at a Hispanic recreational league soccer game when he was punched in the head by the angry player.
The league’s president told The Times that he is considering hiring off-duty police officers to provide security at games. Not a bad idea.