Miami Herald

Soccer player punched referee, cops say

- BY OMAR RODRÍGUEZ ORTIZ AND CHARLES RABIN orodriguez­ortiz@miamiheral­ charles crabin@miamiheral­ Omar Rodríguez Ortiz: 305-376-2218, @Omar_fromPR

It was a busy night at one of the most popular soccer sanctuarie­s in Miami-Dade, and Nelson Aviles-Rolon was angry with some calls made by one particular referee.

So he punched him in the face, Miami-Dade police said. Then he took off.

Aviles-Rolon hit Yerly Briceno so hard that detectives say they had to interview the referee at a hospital.

On Tuesday, more than two weeks after a video of the punch continues to pick up steam on social media, Aviles-Rolon turned himself in to police.

He’s facing felony charges of aggravated battery and battery.

Briceno, 44, told police that Aviles-Rolon, 33, punched him after the player was issued a red card, which forced him to leave the game and suspended him from the next match.

“The defendant responded by punching Mr. Briceno in the face with a closed fist causing him to fall to the ground,” the arresting officer wrote.

But Aviles-Rolon’s attorney, Rick Hermida, said the video clip is only part of the story. He said he has additional video that will help exonerate his client.

Hermida said words were exchanged before the punch and that his client was knocked to the ground first.

“I think the facts will eventually speak for themselves. There’s a lot more to this story than meets the eye,” Hermida said. “The big story here is the lack of context.”

According to police, Briceno said he had finished officiatin­g several soccer matches on Jan. 8, a Sunday evening at the Kendall Soccer Park, 8011 SW 127th Ave., when Aviles-Rolon, a player on a losing team, approached and insulted him. Police said he was particular­ly peeved about receiving the red card, forcing him to miss the next game.

The referee told police that afrer he fell to the ground follwing the punch, Aviles-Rolon kicked him on the side of the head. Police said another referee who tried to intervene was also punched.

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