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Soccer parents react to man arrested for assaulting child, referee

Soccer Fight

THOUSAND PALMS, Calif. - Betsy Chavez is a parent of three American Youth Soccer Organization players. She also the safety director for the organization and says it's all fun and games for the kids until a parent takes things too far.

Rafael Delfin Sequeda, 38, of Cathedral City, is accused of doing just that. He's accused of running onto the soccer field at the Thousand Palms Community Park on Saturday, pushing a 9-year-old player and then kicking a referee.

"I'm surprised it happened. Something like that should never happen. These are just kids having a good time. Parents need to relax and just watch the game," said Chavez.

Police say Sequeda was upset when the referee made a call he disagreed with.

"As far as sportsmanship goes, it's just a very bad example," Jim Engel, the AYSO area director.

The child is recovering and the referee was not hurt.

Engel said the incident wasn't within AYSO but he's seen it happen before. The organization has rules not just for kids on the field, but parents too.

"We have a team parent meeting with all of the parents present, give the rules and expectations for behavior at the game," said Engel.

"We are the example for our children and we hope we are leading an example for them," said Chavez.

For those parents who aren't being team players, Engel says, "If you can't abide by the rules, please leave."

Chavez says there's a lesson to be learned by all before entering a kid's zone.

"It's just a game. We're not creating soccer stars. We are creating an environment for kids to be safe in," she said.

Sequeda is booked on suspicion of misdemeanor battery. He is due back in court on Dec. 12.

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