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Beech Island man arrested in soccer referee's assault

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 6:11 PM
Last updated 11:06 PM
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Columbia County authorities arrested a Beech Island man in connection with the assault of a soccer referee this month at Patriots Park.

Johnny Alberto Zuniga, 44, of Atomic Road, was charged Friday with a misdemeanor count of battery against a sports official, according to his arrest report.

At an Augusta Amateur Soccer League match July 8, a referee called a penalty on Zuniga, who responded by stepping on him and kicking his shins, authorities said.

When the official tried twice to give him a red card, Zuniga grabbed the referee’s neck and tried to choke him, according to a Columbia County incident report.

The referee, who coughed up blood, sought medical attention at a hospital.

Zuniga, a citizen of Costa Rica, could face a maximum of 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine, Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said in an e-mail.

Zuniga was released from the Columbia County Detention Center on July 21 after posting a $1,100 bond, according to a jailer.

Morris said the sheriff’s office was required by law to notify the consulate of Costa Rica, but Zuniga likely will not face deportation.

Zuniga has been banned from the Augusta Amateur Soccer League and from participating in any Columbia County leagues.

Comments (19) Add comment
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OhWell
326
Points
OhWell 07/25/12 - 07:06 pm
7
0
And why would this not be a

And why would this not be a felony if the referee was coughing up blood and required a visit to the hospital?

dichotomy
33005
Points
dichotomy 07/25/12 - 08:52 pm
7
0
It's a violent crime so why

It's a violent crime so why would he not be deported?

If you went to Costa Rica and started kicking and choking a local citizen I imagine you would still be in the jail waiting to call the American embassy. And you would be deported AFTER you pulled your 5 years in prison and paid restitution to the victim.

jbartley
545
Points
jbartley 07/25/12 - 10:36 pm
2
5
Soccer

They play soccer hard outside of America it is there sport like baseball is ours, don't forget we brought soccer here and want them to play because they have played there whole lives.

KSL
129851
Points
KSL 07/25/12 - 11:14 pm
4
0
I don't think hard includes

I don't think hard includes choking a ref.

KSL
129851
Points
KSL 07/25/12 - 11:18 pm
4
0
This country doesn't need

This country doesn't need non-citizens living here with those kind of anger issues. We have enough crazies here already.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 07/25/12 - 11:30 pm
3
0
Great sportsmanship.

Great sportsmanship.

kiwiinamerica
942
Points
kiwiinamerica 07/26/12 - 12:09 am
1
0
This sort of crazy $*#! goes
Unpublished

This sort of crazy $*#! goes on a lot in Latino countries. Do a search on YouTube. There's stacks of videos of players attacking referees and officials over decisions. Brazil and Argentina appear to be the main culprits but there are others.

These guys fly off the handle really easily and self-control doesn't appear to be in their dictionary.

shrimp for breakfast
5456
Points
shrimp for breakfast 07/26/12 - 01:08 am
4
0
First off

Make him do a year in jail and then deport him never to be allowed back.
What a loser!

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 07/26/12 - 01:24 am
4
0
CCSO:

THANKS for protecting our county's athletic officials from violence by participants in the contests they supervise.

DominoCup
10
Points
DominoCup 07/26/12 - 07:50 am
3
0
Rest of Team

So where was the rest of the team? Just watching and cheering him on? Or the other team, for that matter?

DominoCup
10
Points
DominoCup 07/26/12 - 07:54 am
3
0
Another Point

Because the Augusta Adult Soccer League is NOT a sanctioned league, this man can go elsewhere in the USA and still play soccer. If AASL was a sanctioned league, the USSF (United States Soccer Federation) would have the authority to ban him from soccer across the US.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/26/12 - 03:06 pm
2
3
From what I learned about the

From what I learned about the whole thing, the guy is a very good player and their team had not lost in several years. The penalty that was called apparently cost them their undefeated record. Draw your own conclusions from there.

*****
update: I couldn't figure out why the thumb downs for me reporting something that I heard about this incident directly. I didn't mean by "draw your own conclusion" that the ref was a cheater-pants. I was actually saying that the team the guy was on wasn't use to losing. maybe that was the motivation to push Zuniga over the edge. Not judging, just reporting.

KSL
129851
Points
KSL 07/26/12 - 09:57 am
2
1
No excuse.

No excuse.

Riverman1
84079
Points
Riverman1 07/26/12 - 10:03 am
1
2
The wussies I've seen playing

The wussies I've seen playing soccer need a little excitement. What do I know about soccer? Nada. I just shout, "Kick the ball harder."

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/26/12 - 10:27 am
1
0
I figure there's not enough

I figure there's not enough VOO VOO ZELAS

itsanotherday1
43281
Points
itsanotherday1 07/26/12 - 10:46 am
3
0
Kick this bum's behind all

Kick this bum's behind all the way back to Costa Rica. Permanently.

Of course, we already have a precedent for NOT doing anything about it. That thug in the NBA who choked his coach is still playing. (or was)

Riverman1
84079
Points
Riverman1 07/26/12 - 12:52 pm
1
0
David, that's all they need.

David, that's all they need. Fans blowing that God forsaken horn. Ha.

shrimp for breakfast
5456
Points
shrimp for breakfast 07/26/12 - 01:34 pm
1
0
Riverman

I'll have to remember that if I ever go to a soccer match.
KICK THE BALL HARDER!!!

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/26/12 - 02:54 pm
1
1
sub "referee" for ball in

sub "referee" for ball in Costa though...

THAT"S a JOKE> JUST KIDDING> I LOVE RUM!!!!

turtle4469
3
Points
turtle4469 07/26/12 - 10:07 pm
0
0
This isn't the first incident

This isn't the first incident that this player has had towards sport officials and other players across the csra. The player is talented but talent is nothing if you can't respect the laws of the game, other players and the referee. No matter how you look at it, ( first time losing) championship on the line or even if the ref is really that bad. There is no reason for a fan, player or a official to ever assault another individual on the field.

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