The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

May 6, 2013

Family of Utah soccer referee who died holds vigil

— SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Family members of a Utah soccer referee who died a week after a player punched him in the head called on athletes around the world Sunday night to hold their tempers in check so another family doesn't have to suffer.

They spoke at a candlelight vigil held on the front lawn of the Salt Lake City home of Ricardo Portillo, 46. Wearing white shirts and holding signs that read, "In loving memory of Ricky," family and friends stood around a table that had a picture of Portillo raising his arms in victory, with flowers and candles surrounding it.

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

Portillo died Saturday night after a week in a coma.

"He was a father, he was a friend, he was a grandfather, he left a whole family behind," said Johana Portillo, the oldest of his three daughters. "They should think before they do something stupid."

The suspect has been booked into juvenile detention on suspicion of aggravated assault. Authorities will consider additional charges since Portillo has passed away. An autopsy is planned. No cause of death was released.

Asked if she can forgive the teenager, Johana Portillo said she hopes to someday, but isn't ready yet.

She said Sunday she doesn't care what the punishment becomes since it won't bring back her father. She only hopes he can't get out and do the same thing to somebody else, she said.

"I feel sorry for him. I feel for his family," she said. "But if he was old enough to do what he did, then he's responsible to pay for it."

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