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Question Number: 34178

Law 5 - The Referee 3/28/2021

RE: Pro Adult

Crebs Crem of Zagreb, Croatia asks...

One of my friends and I had an argument related to advantage play. We assumed that one the players of team A was fouled by an opponent. Immediately after, another team A player took the possession of the ball and therefore the the referee waved play on. Instead of playing forward, team A player who took the possession played back towards his/her goalkeeper but since the pass was not accurate, the ball went out for a corner kick. In my opinion, the restart should be a corner kick by team B. However, one of my friends claims that the restart should be a freekick for team A where the original foul occurred. His reasoning is that team A didn't play forward after the foul occurred, the back-pass by team A player was not an attacking play but a defensive play and therefore the advantage didn't come true. So, I want to ask what should the correct restart be in such a case?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Crebs,
friends discuss, they should not argue lol. Enough crap in the worldt o get upset about then being upset over a game you both like! o)

The advantage is a referee's decision to allow play to continue when they feel it is of greater benefit to allow play to unfold rather than quickly award a free-kick for the foul notwithstanding a card for misconduct could still be awarded at the next stoppage. The referee is secure in the knowledge of being able to revert back to the foul, IF, after few seconds the advantage idea fizzles because it has no options or opportunity to CLEARLY succeed in a manner better than that free-kick opportunity.

Not that this is the only way but, IF I do the arm sweep & callout ADVANTAGE ! after a short time I yell out, PLAY ON ! then drop the arm wave, we are NOT going back to the foul because in my mind, advantage WAS realized. Based loosely on your assumptions & how long this took & how and where it is on the FOP, it is still feasible I am going with a free-kick! Not 100% but likely!

The fact that a teammate is in a position to take advantage by continuing the attack is observed and correlated by the referee to determine if the advantage was realized and no reason exists to go back to the foul. For the corner kick to be awarded the referee must be of the mindset that advantage WAS realized prior to that pass not that we were still considering if the advantage was yet done?

If the attacker taking possession of the ball after the foul was offside and thus a loss of possession would occur most assuredly we are going back to the foul. Here, with your version of events, we have a possibility that the advantage might have been squandered by a bad decision? In which case the corner kick is likely!

My question would be as a referee, WAS there a clear way forward to advance & attack because if a backpass was all there was, I tend to see it as not a very good advantage other than keeping ball possession? Given the position is such, it seems you are in the defending 3rd or at most just entering the middle 3rd? I just perceive no real advantage in NOT awarding the free-kick??

Look, if the foul occurs in the attacking 3rd outside the opposing PA and the referee applies advantage, the 2nd attacker who runs onto that ball has a clear chance to shoot or score but was nervous so he passed on the opportunity or wanted the keeper who had never scored who had moved up and tried to drop him a pass and it went poorly then we say he squandered the opportunity as advantage was in fact realized just not acted upon.

The fact the pass was backward isn't the reason to award the free-kick, the concept of advantage is, was there one to be had? Was there a CLEAR way forward to advance the attack or was the attacker pressured into making that pass? I tend to think a free-kick could be awarded but not for the reasoning of your friend just that there was no better advantage there THAN the free-kick? If the pass back had gone well and the ball hammered upfield where an onside attacker ran onto the ball then we could say well I guess that is advantage enough.

Sorry to not give you a definite answer but you can now imagine why a referees' understanding of the game improves their concept of using advantage properly! The animosity of NOT awarding a free kick for a foul they KNOW you saw, a desire to retaliate on hold & subsequently losing ball possession due to no real attacking options, just a wishful well you had ball possession. The mistake better be very clear it WAS theirs, not yours!


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

The first point to make is that direction of play is not part of the Law in advantage. Yes generally it is to help with an attack yet there can be times when it is just possession and a team wants to move the ball back to go forward in another direction. The use of the goalkeeper in passing is part of the modern game and in retaining possession.

Advantage is where a referee allows play to continue when an offence occurs and the non-offending team will benefit from the advantage, and penalises the offence if the anticipated
advantage does not ensue at that time or within a few seconds.

In this particular example the real question is whether there was an advantage in the first place and I would say that a lengthy kick back to the goalkeeper does not suggest an advantage to me yet context and tactics need to be considered. In which case the referee could go back to the original offence within a few seconds if he feel that advantage did not accrue.
For example say the attacker had 20 yards of attacking open space to run into yet perhaps because it was late in the game he decides not do that and turns around trying to hold on to possession by retaining the ball with a lengthy back pass that is poorly executed. Is a referee going to consider that the advantage did not accrue?

Over the years I have had a number of good advantages that were squandered by poor play by the attacking team such as a player running on with the ball for say 10 yards and then over kicking a pass out for a throw in or goal kick. Probably the odd moan about "where is the advantage there ref" to which I would have tell them that they had the advantage and that they squandered it.

So there is no correct answer here. The referee could go back to the original offence or he could also say that the team chose to squander the advantage by choosing the wrong option and executing it poorly.
Or in fact there was no real advantage in the first place and the referee goes back to the offence when he realises that.

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