Soccer referee in critical condition after Utah teen punches him in the head arguing yellow card

Ben Rohrbach
Prep Rally

Punching a soccer referee in the head is probably the worst way to argue a yellow card.

The Eisenhower soccer fields, where a referee was seriously injured in an assault by a teen player — KSL screen shot
The Eisenhower soccer fields, where a referee was seriously injured in an assault by a teen player — KSL screen shot

Yet, that didn't stop a Utah teen from allegedly striking a ref so hard that the official remains in critical condition four days later, according to reports from outlets across the region, including the Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News and KSL 5 News.

Law enforcement officials arrested a 17-year-old for aggravated assault on Monday, Salt Lake Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal told The Salt Lake Tribune. The charges stem from an alleged assault during a recreational match on soccer fields outside Taylorsville's Eisenhower Junior High on Saturday, pictured above, when Fut Continental soccer club had the field reserved.

Injuries to the 46-year-old referee were originally considered minor, according to the Deseret News, but doctors discovered severe internal head injuries when the man lost consciousness at a nearby hospital, where he reportedly remains in critical condition.

The unidentified teen was taken to juvenile detention, but the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case to determine whether or not the youth should be charged as an adult, according to The Tribune. Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony in Utah that carries a sentence of 0-5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

The Tribune's attempts to reach the Fut Continental failed, but Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley confirmed the soccer club had the field reserved at the time of the incident. The Utah Youth Soccer Association does not sanction Fut Continental.

"To see something like this is not what we are looking for," USYA CEO Andrew Hiatt told the Associated Press. "It's horrible. Hopefully we use this as teaching moment to continue to push sportsmanship."

The Salt Lake Unified Police Department asked The Tribune to spread the word requesting information or video from anyone who witnessed the alleged assault. UPD detectives can be reached at 801-743-5913.

In 2009, University of New Mexico's Elizabeth Lambert was suspended after throwing elbows, punches and yanking a BYU player's ponytail in a Mountain West Conference semifinal in nearby Provo, Utah. Lambert also drew a yellow card, which she also argued.

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