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Utah soccer referee in coma from player's punch

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 2, 2013 at 9:24 pm •  Published: May 2, 2013

"People don't know it's a game," Johana Portillo said. "We're all there to have fun, not to go and kill each other."

His daughters begged him to stop refereeing — his second job — but he continued because he loved soccer.

"It was his passion," she said. "We could not tell him no."

The league is not affiliated with the Utah Youth Soccer Association or any city or town recreation department. It is called the Liga Continental, said the referee's brother-in-law Pedro Lopez, who also gets paid to referee in the league.

Johana Portillo said the family doesn't know the teenager who threw the punch, and they haven't heard from him or anyone in his family.

Friday is Ricardo Portillo's youngest daughter's 16th birthday, and the family was planning to leave on vacation Thursday, Johana Portillo said. Instead, they have set up a bank fund in case their father dies.

"If my dad doesn't make it, we want to make his last wish come true," Johana Portillo said. "To see his family again."

She said his sisters are trying to come from Guadalajara, Mexico. The referee hadn't seen his sisters in the 16 years since he moved to Utah.

"It's just not fair," said Johana Portillo, holding back tears. "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."


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