Sacramento soccer dad seen on video assaulting referee says 'parent instinct took over'

The referee says "it felt like a train hit me" after a parent tackled the referee during a soccer match.

Posted: Nov 24, 2021 9:16 AM
Updated: Nov 24, 2021 9:16 AM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) — A soccer parent who is now facing a misdemeanor charge for tackling a youth soccer referee during a match in Roseville says he wishes he had just yelled at him instead.

Vicente Robles, of Sacramento, recalling what happened on the pitch on Oct. 30, said he raced toward the referee and pushed him to the ground with his own body after witnessing an exchange between the ref and his son.

“I'm a parent and the parent instinct is gonna take over no matter what,” Robles told KCRA 3.

The explosive incident was captured on video at the soccer match at Festersen Park.

Robles explained that he was defending his 15-year-old son on the field after Robles said the referee pushed his son with both hands.

Andrew Reali is the referee Robles plowed into.

“It felt like a train hit me, Reali said. “That's how I felt."

Reali said Robles' son was "up in his face."

“The language, and saying that he wanted to, you know, ‘beat my (expletive),’ sorry, to say it, that’s what he said,” Reali said.

He told KCRA 3 that the player, Robles’ son, didn't like a call the referees made and was telling him about it.

Reali said the player got too close, so he tried to get him out of the way.

“I personally don’t think I pushed him forcefully… He was in my face, and I just went like this,” Reali said while putting both hands up, demonstrating a light pushing motion. “I didn’t have an intent to hurt him. That was never my intent.”

The player's dad got mad and charged after him shortly thereafter.

“It's the hardest hit I've ever taken,” Reali said. “I've been doing this 14 years and I've taken some hard hits from players running into me. It's part of the game. This is by far the hardest hit I've ever taken.”

Robles said he wishes things played out differently.

“If I were to do it over again, yes. I would. I would do it over again,” Robles said. “I would at least try to yell at him or something of that nature.”

He also said he would like the ref to know he's sorry.

“I wish it would never got to this point. I wish it never, you know, happened like this,” Robles said. “If I would, I would apologize to him as a man-to-man.”

The referee said he'd accept an apology if one is offered.

“I'm not gonna let that put a chip on my shoulder if he has the courage to do that and say that he's sorry, I would accept his apology,” Reali said.

Reflecting on the incident, Robles said he’s learned from it.

“We have to choose our words,” he said. “Choose our moments of anger.”

He said he wants his sons to know how to handle future disagreements on the field.

“If they have a beef with the ref, it sucks, but you have to kinda like, bite your tongue,” he said.

Robles is set to be in court next month facing a misdemeanor charge of "battery on a sports official."

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