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The Boston Globe

Sports

On Second Thought

A yellow card that led to a tragedy

The punch that staggered Ricardo Portillo, which is likely what killed him, came on a soccer field two Sundays ago in suburban Salt Lake City. Portillo, 46, a longtime soccer referee, had just issued a yellow card and did what referees do, started to jot down details in his tiny official’s book, to make note of offender and circumstances, when the 17-year-old goalkeeper he was in the midst of writing up socked him in the face.

According to the police report, Portillo was balled up in a fetal position when first responders arrived at the field. He complained of pain in his face and back. He said he felt nauseous. Rushed to a hospital, his brain swelling, he slipped into a coma later that night and died last weekend, just days after the birthday of his 15-year-old daughter, Valeria.

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