Current weather

  • Overcast
  • 46°
    Overcast
  • Comment

Beech Island man arrested for assaulting soccer referee

Posted: July 25, 2012 - 4:57pm  |  Updated: July 25, 2012 - 5:07pm
Johnny Alberto Zuniga, 44, of Beech Island  Special Photo
Special Photo
Johnny Alberto Zuniga, 44, of Beech Island

Columbia County authorities arrested a Beech Island man for assaulting a soccer referee at Patriots Park on July 8.

Johnny Alberto Zuniga, 44, of Atomic Road, was charged with a misdemeanor count of battery against a sports official on July 20, according to his arrest report.

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

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

The referee, who began coughing up blood, sought medical attention at an area 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.

He 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 will likely not face deportation.

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

  • Comment

Comments (16)

DominoCup

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.

Riverman1

Reminds me of European Matches

It reminds me of soccer games in other countries where they have riots big enough to call out the army. People get into soccer.

Roge

Question

Why are taxpayer sports facilities rented to teams/leagues that have no affiliation with a governing body, either state or national.. unaffiliated leagues/teams always present problems..

soapy_725

the face of arrogance

no respecto policia.

ripjones256

Deport Him

There is no excuse for this type of behavior, especially from a "visitor" to our country. We have enough problems with our OWN citizens. My first thought was, a stupid parent, but he was an adult player, who should know better.

allboys2

This guy is a problem

This guy attacked my family member last year who is also a referee. This guy should not be able to play any sports in Columbia county.

Roge

Past Offenses

Can the NewsTimes confirm if this same player was punished by the league administrators and if the punishment was served for the previous incident. Why wasn't he removed from the players list at that time and not eligible to play. Columbia County Rec should require individuals renting sports facilities to provide police protection for players, officials and spectators.

allboys2

What took so long to arrest

What took so long to arrest him? He did this on July 8th. He has family that plays too will he be banned from those events? With all the crazy people in the world the police protection could of stopped this violence

Brian Patty

Roge,

1, The taxpayers money is not enough to maintain the facilities properly. Most recreational facilities across the board rent/lease their fields/facilities to help maintain the property. The Aasl league is a good positive environment that gives has been,would have been, should have been soccer stars a chance to get out and relive their childhood pastimes. I participate in the league (i am actually the sponsor and captain of the team mentioned here) The next thing closest to the league for bringing friends together who all share the love for this beautiful sport is a bar. Columbia County receives in excess of $15,000 per year from the Aasl. If you go to Blanchard Woods or Patriots Park at any given time the place is usually dead especially on Sundays and Wednesday nights when we play.
As far as the prior incident there is no record. The guy splashed water on the Ref. It was about 95 degrees that day and we're talking a cap maybe two caps full of water. Johnny is a hot head and a little reckless but he too has been singled out whether it's race, skill, looks who knows but it's definitely there.
In my opinion this incident was blown way out of proportion. I had a 10 minute conversation with the ref following the incident and I didn't see any marks on his throat nor did he seem to have any trouble breathing or talking. I think it was more of a pride thing. It was hot that day tempers were flared, it was a very physical game . I hate it that it happened.
Other than that the Aasl has a very good track record. In the six seasons I have been here never even seen a fight. Which is very rare in this type of league. So I think for now we don't need any security or police escorts. Thanks Ricky Saunders for making the league happen and I wish I would have been there for the whole game, I may have been able to calm the guys down.

allboys2

Brian

I have seen so many punches thrown last year , broken noses and plenty of verbal abuse toward refs on a weekly basis. These are suppose to be adults.
My family member received more than a cap full of water and by no means is this person being called out because of race ! How dare you think that is what this is about. The referee that was attacked did end up going to the hospital and this is a fact. The fact that this guy is well know for this stuff by the refs is a problem. I am glad that he will no longer be seen or heard on any county field. If you want to know all that goes on during the adult league sign up and be verbally and physically assulted by the players as a ref !
In case you didn't know, IT IS against the law to attack or assualt a Georgia referee. Check it out in case you think the facts are wrong. I'm pretty sure CCPD would not arrest someone if they did nothing wrong and make them pay bail. Ricky does do a great job for the adult league but what the players do on the field is not his doing. You are all adults and when you act like a criminal then you will be treated like one!!!

GaStang22

Wow

So this Johnny guy is the only person of that race on the teams? Thanks for letting us know who not to support or play for. The refs for this league are lying racists. ok got it. Thanks for the heads up Brian. Why do yall play for and sponsor a league that allows that? Wait, another poster said he has family that plays, are they all treated that way and lied on because of their race? You said he too, so I guess so. Dang, thats not nice.

DominoCup

Really???

Defending this guy. Really??!!?? After a police investigation, evidence presented by the emergency room physician of coughing up blood as a result of the damage from the attack, etc., someone's defending this out of control hot head?

I know top soccer officials in the area who avoid this league because it's not sanctioned. It's a rogue, recreational adult league and many (not all) of the players act like they are playing for the world cup. If a referee whistles for even the smallest of an infraction that has no major impact on the game, there are many players that lose their minds - personal experience. And the impression has been that the league doesn't defend and back up the officials. The impression is that they overturn officials decisions and let players play that should serve suspensions. Augusta needs a real adult league that's sanctioned and has the backing of the United States Soccer Federation and Georgia Soccer. This would benefit the players and the officials in many ways that there isn't time in a little comment to enumerate.

Astroboy

Johnny

I would just like to say that I know Johnny, he is a friend of mine. First let me say that what he did was completely out of line and should have never happened. Johnny indeed is from Costa Rica and he is a good family man, who is very serious about his soccer. As a young man he had the skill to become a professional soccer player, but immaturity guided him in another direction.

It is hard for people in the U.S. to realize how important soccer is in Latin American counrties. Soccer is more than a game for Latins, it is almost a religion!. I have seen similar situations like this one many times, when Latin's come to this country, but still have a Latin American mind-set, getting them in trouble since they have not adjusted to our mentality.

I am writing this comment to inform people that Johnny even though he did something way out of line, is truly a good person, who takes soccer too seriouisly from our perspective on the matter.

mnfpostal

adult soccer players should have respect for authorty too.

I started and ran a soccer league. we had adults leagues and if fights broke out the player was banned from all soccer leagues. this guy needs to turn and walk the other way to avoid a fight. actions like this show the kids its ok to disrespect authority figures. NOT GOOD.
with out the ref there is no game. its not easy being a ref. and touching or even being aggressive toward a ref is against the law. much less trying to choke him to the point of him spitting up blood. he may be a good family man but as a soccer player I dont see him much of a man. my husband was raised in costa rica and loves to play soccer and i know he would never act that way... and trying to call the race card, come on get real.. I feel the league or team should banned him and also charge him a hefty fine for the embarresment that he has cause to them and to the great sport of soccer...

mnfpostal

adult soccer players should have respect for authorty too.

I started and ran a soccer league. we had adults leagues and if fights broke out the player was banned from all soccer leagues. this guy needs to turn and walk the other way to avoid a fight. actions like this show the kids its ok to disrespect authority figures. NOT GOOD.
with out the ref there is no game. its not easy being a ref. and touching or even being aggressive toward a ref is against the law. much less trying to choke him to the point of him spitting up blood. he may be a good family man but as a soccer player I dont see him much of a man. my husband was raised in costa rica and loves to play soccer and i know he would never act that way... and trying to call the race card, come on get real.. I feel the league or team should banned him and also charge him a hefty fine for the embarresment that he has cause to them and to the great sport of soccer...

TDFUSA84

SERIOUSLY?

@ Brian Patty, first of all that's a bunch of BS because i was standing right next to the Ref (who is my husband) when he was talking to you and his voice sounded extremely raw. You sat there and apologized to his face about him being attacked and asked him not to take it out on your team. Not only was he coughing out blood, i would be more then happy to send you the same pictures i gave to police officiers of the red marks on my husbands neck in the shape of a hand taken that same day in the ER. 2 different doctors said that guy almost fractured my husbands trachea so NO I don't think it was blown out of proportion. And as for everybody who keeps trying to pull the race card, my husband IS Costa Rican. That guy isn't being singled out because of his race, he's being singled out because he has incident after incident after incident of him losing his temper and lashing out at people. He should have been thrown out of the league the first time it happened instead of letting it get to this point.

Follow News-Times:

News-Times Video »

CONTACT US

  • Main: 706-868-1222
  • Fax: 706-823-6062
  • Email: cnt@newstimesonline.com
  • 4272 Washington Rd, Suite 3B, Evans, Ga. 30809

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES