El Salvadoran Soccer Match Turns Violent, Ref Dies over Red Card

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An amateur soccer match in El Salvador turned deadly after players and fans attacked a referee for issuing a red card.

Jose Arnoldo Amaya was officiating a match at Toluca Stadium in Miramonte when an aggressive player, whom the U.S. Sun described as “a hooligan,” became enraged because Amaya had given him a second yellow card.

The player, his teammates, and fans quickly descended upon Amaya, beating him so viciously that he had to be transported to a hospital where doctors discovered significant internal bleeding. Amaya later died from his injuries.

tribute to Jose Arnoldo Amaya
Jose Arnoldo Amaya (photo courtesy of Cuatro)

Salvadoran Football Federation president Hugo Carillo has condemned the violence and expressed hope for justice:

“As a Federation, we repudiate what happened to referee Jose Arnoldo Amaya. And we trust that the authorities can find those responsible for taking the referee’s life.”

Our sincerest condolences to Amaya’s friends and family and our most ardent condemnation of the behavior that resulted in his death. Amaya had been a referee for twenty years when he died. He was 63 years old.

Written by Cortney Weil

Cortney Weil has a PhD in Shakespearean drama but now spends her days reading and writing about her first passion: sports. She loves God, her husband, and all things Michigan State.


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  1. Unfortunately, El Salvador supporters have a reputation for being highly unruly. As someone who works as an guest services/event security staffer in North Texas, we’ve experienced two “field invasion” incidents within the past year – both involving El Salvador fans – during international matches, one at the Cotton Bowl and one at Toyota Stadium.

    During last season’s CONCACAF Gold Cup group stage, an El Salvador supporter invaded the pitch at the Cotton Bowl, taking advantage of an unsecured field gate which was poorly staffed from my vantage point in the press box area.

    During a U19 Dallas Cup match involving El Salvador in Frisco a couple of months ago, we had El Salvador supporters throwing bottles and other items onto the field on several occasions and an El Salvador supporter invaded the pitch.

    Suffice to say that dealing with that supporters group is more challenging than dealing with Philly fans at AT&T Stadium.

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