BLOG: Parents on the Sideline Blamed in Soccer Referee Death

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Charges are pending after the weekend death of a Utah soccer referee. Reports show a 17 year old punched the referee when a penalty was called in a recreational league game in Salt Lake City. The blow appeared to cause swelling to the ref’s brain. 46 year old, Ricardo Portillo died on Saturday after a week in a coma. Prosecutors are still deciding what to charge the minor with. His name is not being released.

Portillo’s brother-in-law and fellow soccer referee, Pedro Lopez, tells the media the teenager isn’t solely to blame. He points to what happens on the sidelines as a major reason kids lose their cool or don’t cope well with bad calls. He is reported as saying, “It’s not the ignorance of the child, it’s the poor manners of the parents. The yells and insults from the sideline from the parents make kids more violent.”

He goes on to say it’s an emerging trend which needs to be combated with teaching more sportsmanship, for both parents and athletes.

Family members and the team’s coach told members of the media they challenge athletes around the world to hold their tempers in check so another family doesn’t have to suffer.