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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34095

Law 5 - The Referee 1/4/2021

RE: Rec Adult

Russell of Sydeny, Australia asks...

The things you hear with no crowds.

Firstly, Happy New Year all - hope you are safe and well where ever you are.

Just watching the Chelsea v Man City replay and could hear what I thought was the incorrect use of wording from Ref Anthony Taylor.

In the 15th minute, a city player was clipped late as he attempted to gather a pass from a team mate, however, the ball fell favourably to another teammate, who played the ball with a 'first time' pass forward to yet another team mate, who was then challenged and lost the ball - where upon Ref Taylor call the play back for the original clipped foul.

After the initial clip to the city player, and seeing the ball bounce favourably to the next City player, Ref Taylor could be heard to shout "play on".

Here is where I think he used the wrong wording. To shout 'play on' as opposed to 'playing advantage' (or similar) suggests no foul occurred and for everyone to just keep playing.

By shouting 'playing advantage' (or similar), this clearly indicates a foul was spotted, however, we are seeing if the immediate subsequent play provides an advantage.

No body appeared to be put out by ref Taylor's 'Play on' call - however, I have always been advised in these situations to be clear about if it is a no foul play (play on) or a foul play (playing advantage).

On a separate note, it was good to see Ref Taylor awarded an IDFK against the City keeper for picking up a ball kicked directly from a team mate. A rare occurrence certainly, but well spotted.

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Russell,
Since the law does not specify any particular form of wording to be used when playing the advantage, I don't think you can say a referee has used incorrect wording for it.

However I also believe that "play on" is a perfectly acceptable phrase to use when playing the advantage - in fact I would say that in my experience it is the most usual phrase one hears in this context.

The problem for me (even while admitting that no specific wording is prescribed) is when the usually-heard phrase of "play on" is used when the referee is not playing the advantage and instead, is using it to indicate that a foul has not occurred, which can be confusing.

When no foul has occurred and the referee wishes to convey this, I would prefer phrases such as "no foul," or "nothing there."

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Russell
It is not specified in Law what words should be used just generally words followed by the arm signal is a clear indication of a foul occurring and advantage being played.
In the Pro game I suspect that players are less bothered about if it was a foul or not except in the case of a penalty situation. When they retain the ball in a possible *foul* situation that is what is important.
I suppose if a referee rarely says anything on challenges and then uses the words play on with a raised arm then players know it is an advantage situation . It is probably not good mechanics yet once it is understood by everyone in that game then at this level not a big issue.
At grassroots it is best to shout ADVANTAGE and then there is no doubt about it.
On the IDFK it was a good call and awake up call for GKs who think it won't be called. It was a deliberate kick and only intended for the GK so he was not entitled to pick it up. If you noticed though the IDFK was taken outside the penalty area which was incorrect as the offence happened inside the penalty area. Not a big issue yet if it is inside then that is where it must be taken from.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Russell,
I'm quite enjoying hearing a lot more of what happens on the field!

As my esteemed colleagues state, the LOTG don't actually tell you what to say. As such, we have convention - and "Play on!" has, for as long as I've been involved, been an acceptable phrasing. I'm not sure where or how it started, but I know it's widely used and accepted in Australia, and in my online dealings with UK-based referees, it seems to be an accepted convention there as well.

Stick to saying 'Advantage' if you prefer, but 'Play on!' is an acceptable phrasing for the application of advantage. I've never had any issues using it at any level, even lower grades.

In fact, it's so strongly related to advantage that referees are strongly discouraged from saying it when it isn't an advantage scenario - ie if you think there's no foul, then don't say 'play on' when you could say 'keep playing!'.

Ref Dawson has been helpful in providing his process - but be careful unless there has been a national change (or if your region is going against the grain), in Australia we don't call or signal advantage until after we're sure it has materialised. There's no 'call advantage then take it back'.

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