Green Country Soccer Refs React After Utah Referee Killed By Tee - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Green Country Soccer Refs React After Utah Referee Killed By Teen Player's Punch

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Police say a 17-year-old player punched Ricardo Portillo after he called a foul on the player and issued him a yellow card. He slipped into a coma and later died. Police say a 17-year-old player punched Ricardo Portillo after he called a foul on the player and issued him a yellow card. He slipped into a coma and later died.
During a soccer game it's not uncommon for players to lose their cool. During a soccer game it's not uncommon for players to lose their cool.
Preston Papke said, each year, he sees aggression among players, parents and coaches grow. Preston Papke said, each year, he sees aggression among players, parents and coaches grow.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

A prosecutor in Utah says it'll take another day or two before he decides what charges to file, after a teenager's deadly attack on a soccer referee.

Some soccer refs in Green Country say they too have been assaulted, but they're trained to simply walk away if they come in contact with aggressive people.

During a soccer game it's not uncommon for players to lose their cool.

"I've been angry at a ref, but I'll never use violence to go after a ref," said 18-yeas-old Baylor Pittinger.

Pittinger has played soccer for nearly a decade. He said there have been plenty of times a bad call from a ref has caused his temper to rise.

"Never really expect a guy would go after a ref, to actually go out and hurt him for doing his job," he said.

That's exactly what happened to Utah referee Ricardo Portillo. Police say a 17-year-old player punched Portillo after he called a foul on the player and issued him a yellow card.

The referee slipped into a coma and later died.

"It's a game. It's a yellow card," said Green Country referee Preston Papke. "You didn't need to do it, and now these kids are going to spend the rest of their lives without a father. Senseless. Absolutely senseless."

At the Broken Arrow Soccer Club, there's a zero tolerance policy for referee abuse. Papke said, each year, he sees aggression among players, parents and coaches grow.

"The best thing you can do, as a referee, is simply remember that being a calming presence can take care of most, all problems," Papke said.

A ref's job is to fairly call a game and keep the peace, but sometimes they find themselves at the center of a brawl. It's happened to professional referee Paul Scott three times throughout his career.

"I've been punched twice and kicked once on three different occasions over the years. Each time, the player was suspended, or the entire team, and occasionally prosecuted," Scott said.

He said years of reefing have taught him how to deal with aggressive people.

Scott said he uses, "reflective listening and empathetic statements to try to get them to calm down."

In some states, it is a felony to assault a referee. In Oklahoma, it's only a misdemeanor.

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