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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33412

Law 5 - The Referee 6/3/2019

RE: Competive Under 17

Edmond Jiang of Chicago, IL USA asks...

If the attacker is fouled but he still controls the ball and next play can seriously make immediate threat to the other team, sure I would give an advantage. But the question or confusion came to me, when the ball is away from the goal, and the attacking player/team will be no chance of making a goal.

Sometime this happens in the middle field, and sometime it happens in the back field of the attacking team who has the ball. Shall we always give advantage to the attacking team no matter where he is?

I have players they want advantage in such case and some players rather want a foul called instead of giving them advantage.

Thanks a lot in advance.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Edmond
First off it is never a good idea to play advantage in the defenders last third of the field of play. It would need to be a very certain advantage with no chance of the defending team losing the ball to the attacking team. If the goalkeeper has the ball safely in his hands then advantage can be played as from that position a punt or throw can be more advantageous. Or a defender who has the ball is chasing up the wing with no opponents close. By all means allow play to continue,
As to elsewhere it is a judgement call for the referee to make. Possession is only one part to be considered. Other factors include number of attackers, space to play into, is there the potential for a promising attack etc. The referee has to consider the opportunity that may be there by allowing play to continue.
Now some teams are not good at the use of advantage. They may simply want the free kick and may prefer setting up an attacking free kick by bringing defenders forward. The time in the game can also be a factor with supporting players getting tired and perhaps would rather take the free kick.
Some team just want the ball and perhaps all a free kick does is stop the team from continuing with play in a passing game. At the Pro level this is quite common where the team does not want the free kick and simply go short on any free kick to be back in the position they were in. That is and looks like that the team wants advantage and only want the free kick when it loses possession.
There is great satisfaction in playing a good advantage while the opposite of that is playing it when it does not work out as intended. In addition in the attacking third there is nothing more annoying than stopping play and a good advantage is available. Over the years I can recall a couple of instances where I should have played advantage but did not and *goals* were subsequently scored. Both instances resulted in penalty kicks, one of which was missed. Had I given myself a bit more time with a wait and see I could have allowed play to continue.
I can also recall a couple of really great advantages that resulted in goals being scored from the subsequent plays. Great satisfaction can be had from not stopping play and the fouled against team benefiting from that rather than stopping for the free kick.
It is a skill that can be developed by anticipating what is happening and likely to happen given the way the players are set up. I be.ueve the first step is to adopt a slow approach to certain fouls, the one where advantage might be a factor. That wait and see approach allows the referee time to consider advantage. If it does not present quickly then the referee can and should go back to the offence.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Edmond,
No, you should not always apply the advantage clause no matter where the foul occurs. The Laws of the Game actually address this point. In the section entitled, ''Practical Guidelines for Match Officials'' we find the following:

''The referee may play advantage whenever an offence occurs but should consider the following in deciding whether to apply the advantage or stop play:
- the position where the offence was committed - the closer to the opponent's goal, the more effective the advantage can be
- the chances of an immediate, promising attack
- the atmosphere of the match''

The clause about the position on the field can be thought of as a 'law of thirds,' in the following manner. In the team's defensive third, be very, very wary about trying to play the advantage (there often is no advantage to be gained). In the middle third of the field, you can apply the advantage more often - but still with care - and in the team's attacking third, be much more prepared to use the advantage provisions.

Even in the final third of the field, as the laws state, you should still consider whether there is truly a chance for an ''immediate, promising attack.'' Simply retaining possession of the ball, does not mean the team/player actually has an advantageous position, as compared to having a free kick.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Edmond,
it is an astute observation to recognize sometimes teams PREFER advantage, others prefer a free kick . I tend to notice this more in youth and semi pro then professional. I have no issues asking players, directly, 'Were you ok in that advantage, did you feel it was worthy?

There is the SILENT wait & see approach where we look for a moment,delaying the whistle to see if the ball maybe rolls effectively to another team mate or if the fouled player can ride out the adversity to emerge free and clear to score a goal. I use that more in the PA on a goal scoring possibility in the attacking third or very occasionally in the defending third when say the keeper has total ball possession, perhaps on a close offside where I might wave off an AR flag.

Generally we use advantage as a reasoned mechanism in the attacking third to have scoring opportunities and possibly good attacking buildups in the middle third. On occasion, even from the defending third be it a punt out by a keeper or a 50 yard clearance can initiate a quick counter attack .

In the middle third if there appears to be no ill will or retaliatory looks you might allow a simple foul to go unpunished of possession is easily & successfully maintained but here & even inside the attacking 3rd you need to grasp fully is it really of greater benefit to allow play to merely continue then take a free kick on goal?

Yet when a match has a foul that creates a huge out cry often entire teams simply stop playing or only one or a handful desire to press on.

In youth a deliberate handling will create screams for stoppage yet often the ball deflects advantageously at least as often as it stops the attack. Cue the screams to call this terrible foul, coaches screeching, parents yelling, kids will actually freeze up, stop or actually bend over to pick the ball up even BEFORE the whistle reacting to the outside forces rather then pay any attention to the referee who may well be trying to play an advantage. In youth, often it is the coaches who want a free kick anywhere around the PA as they have a thunder-leg McCurk ready to blast balls into the goal as most keepers are not yet at that 6 ft plus mark. So age, skill, tactical ability & awareness of whats going on is something to consider.

The procedure I was taught is to loudly verbalize the word ADVANTAGE and arm signal extended with palms up, gesturing for play to continue. ( Nowadays you can use just one arm with palm up as they claim it is easier to stay with play.) This indicated you SAW the foul (thus no need to hear dissenters yell out, thinking you had failed to see it) but we are NOT stopping play because we think the free kick 'might' not be necessary. When we DECIDE that the free kick 'will' NOT be necessary then after a reasonable time frame of 2 to 3 but possibly up to 5 seconds, call out 'PLAY ON!' and drop the arm signal. This occurs because IN OUR opinion the advantage HAS been realized & there will NOT be a free kick. (Although one might have to show a card later at the next stoppage if there was misconduct)

In general we ALWAYS try or NEVER use words like always or never lol as they are by their nature too restrictive. AS we have elucidated stay focused on who, where and when so you will know what, why & how to proceed . I can assure you as have my colleagues when you use advantage correctly it adds a very real strength to the match especially if the skill and talent of those playing make use of it. And yes you will have a smug wry smile plus a thumbs up of respect.

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