SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Unsportsmanlike conduct unfolded on a soccer field in Southwest Miami-Dade when, a referee’s attorney said, an angry player punched his client in the head before he kicked another referee.
Video of Sunday evening’s football scuffle has gone viral on social media.
Oscar Arriaza, who knows one of the victims, spoke to 7News about the incident on Thursday.
“It’s definitely something that we don’t need here, in the sport and the community,” he said.
Attorney Andres Vidales, who is representing the referee who, he said, was punched in the head, said his client ended up in the hospital with injuries to his face.
“He was told that two centimeters to the left or right, he probably would not have survived that impact,” he said.
Vidales said it all went down during an adult soccer match at Kendall Soccer Park in the area of Southwest 80th Street and 127th Avenue.
Vidales said his client initially gave the player in question a warning after he became aggressive and began threatening members of the opposing team.
As the game went on, Vidales said, the player became even more aggressive and began hurling profanities at the referees.
When the referees tried to eject the player, the situation became physical.
“Without him even looking up, all [my client] says is that he felt a punch in the face,” said Vidales.
He said no cameras were rolling when the player punched the first referee, but cellphone video captured what happened next.
“After he proceeded to attack my client, [the player] turns away and strikes another official that was on the field,” he said.
The footage captured the assailant kicking the second referee as he lay on the ground.
“He violently comes running and strikes him with his right foot across his entire head,” said Vidales.
Arriaza, who coaches his own children and others at Kendall Soccer Park, said the player’s actions are unacceptable.
“That video really shows disrespect to one of the key parts of our game, which is our referees,” he said.
Academia Tiki-Taki USA, the team that hosts the player involved, released a statement on social media acknowledging the incident. It reads in part, “We want to make clear that the academy rejects categorically any act and violent action in any area and even more in the sports field … that is why with much responsibility we ratify that the acting of that person does not represent what we are.”
When asked whether he believes this is a criminal matter, Arriaza replied, “I believe so. Anytime that you put your hands on another person, I think that does.”
Or, in this case, their feet.
As for the injured referee, his attorney said he is being evaluated by doctors and hopes to return to the job he loves so much, but he is now living in fear.
“He’s scared about going out, he’s scared about going back out to the field,” said Vidales. “He’s also scared because he almost lost his life.”
Vidales said he and his client are in contact with Miami-Dade Police, and they plan to press charges.
Officials with MDPD said they sent officers to the park, but the assailant was no longer there. They continue to investigate the incident.
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