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Soccer league issued warning following attack on referee

Published: Friday, May 3 2013 6:20 p.m. MDT

TAYLORSVILLE — As a soccer referee continued to fight for his life Friday, the teen accused of attacking him remained in juvenile detention and the soccer league he was a part of was issued a warning that its field permit may be revoked.

According to a Unified police report obtained by the Deseret News under an open records request, the attack occurred while the 17-year-old was playing in his first game with that team. The teen goalkeeper was apparently upset that a corner kick had been called.

The goalie, who is 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 220 pounds, shoved one of the opposing players, the report states. That's when referee Riccardo Portillo, 46, issued a yellow card. The teen responded by punching Portillo one or two times in the head, according to the report.

The attack happened April 27 on a soccer field behind Eisenhower Junior High School, 4351 S. Redwood Road. At first, paramedics believed Portillo's injuries were minor because he did not show any sign of external injuries.

The responding officer found Portillo "laying on the ground in a fetal position, in the goalie box of the middle (of the) soccer field," the report states. He complained of nausea, pain in his face and back and there was blood in his saliva.

After Portillo arrived at the hospital, his condition worsened. Soon he was in critical condition. On Thursday, his family said he remained in extremely critical condition and fighting for his life.

"It's just not fair. He was a really loved person," Johana Portillo said of her father. "We'll just have to wait. We wait and we hope for a miracle that he'll be OK."

Shawn Smith, a doctor at Intermountain Medical Center, said the hit to the side of Portillo's head caused bleeding around the blood vessels in one area of the brain, and blood loss and edema in another. He was suffering from extreme swelling in his brain.

The coach of the teen's team told police it was the first game that the boy had played for him. At least a half-dozen people were listed as witnesses in the police report, including the coach of the teen and the commissioner of the Latino league, Fut Continental, that his team was a part of.

The Associated Press reported Friday that the league will be hiring off-duty police officers as security for future games, and the team the 17-year-old assailant played for has been expelled.

The teen left the field after the attack but was later arrested. He was booked into juvenile detention Monday for investigation of aggravated assault. He remained in detention Friday after police filed an extension to hold him before potential charges are considered early next week. It was unknown Friday whether prosecutors will seek to have the boy charged in juvenile court or adult court.

Unified police refused to release the boy's name.

Also Friday, the Granite School District issued a written reprimand to the league because of the attack and for allegedly trashing the field they were playing on. The district warned that the league's permit would be revoked if the behavior continued.

"We the teachers are absolutely upset at all the trash left on the soccer fields from this weekend," the letter to the league began.

The teachers said their students found more than 50 water bottles, six beer cans, lots of cigarette butts and a used diaper when they went to use the fields the following Monday.

"Are you kidding us? We strive to keep our facility clean, watered and mowed and we come back on Monday to this kind of mess?" the teachers wrote. "It is not the school's responsibility to clean up after you."

The letter ended with mention of the assault on Portillo, noting: "This situation only adds more cause to warn you in the hopes that your soccer events will be positive and civil activities."

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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