Crime and Punishment!

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS June 3, 2013 #439        Up next…Crime and Punishment!

After further review…Given the tragic death of youth soccer referee Ricardo Portillo recently, perhaps even-further-review is needed. The nouns in the phrase “crime and punishment” imply a natural progression. It is certainly a mantra that accountability must follow an action.

The “crime” in this instance is the punch thrown by a 17-year old soccer player that felled and ultimately killed Portillo. The player was angered by the yellow card he drew from Portillo. A yellow card in soccer is given to a player because of his “unsporting behavior” and may include a temporary suspension. Unsporting behavior comprises some eighteen rules violations that attempt to cause an unfair advantage ranging from harassment and faking injuries to blatant fouls and threatening postures.

Portillo immigrated from Guatemala in 1997. It was his dream to be a soccer referee, and he constantly studied the rule book and watched numerous games on TV. He often proudly told his family that “One day I will be there (on the field)”. Portillo was a dedicated family man earning his living as a mattress factory worker. After working an earlier game that Saturday, he was asked to officiate another game later in the day.

17-year-old Jose’ Domingo Teran had not planned on playing that day, and was simply a spectator at his brother’s game when he was “recruited” to fill-in. At 5’8”, 220 pounds, wearing a borrowed jersey, Teran was assigned the goalkeeper’s position. When Portillo awarded a corner kick, Teran pushed an opponent out of the way. The referee believed it to be a violation and issued the yellow card. Teran then punched Portillo. Why?

Teran had reportedly never displayed this kind of behavior in the past. His mother said “He is not a violent or aggressive person and has never raised his hand at home; I can’t believe or accept this”. Years earlier, Teran’s nephew suffered life-threatening injuries at the hands of a drunk driver. Teran attended the boy like an ICU nurse clearing his collapsed lung of mucus and assisting him with basic bodily functions as his nephew adjusted to life without the use of his legs. In such displays of daily compassion, there was no hint of the moment when violence would overwhelm Teran’s decency.

The dilemma in this case is simply that justice must be served, but at what cost to a non-violent kid who made a tragic mistake?

Will you log-in with your judgment for this crime?

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