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Question Number: 34237

Law 5 - The Referee 6/2/2021

RE: Youth-Adult, recreational and competitive

Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

I was centre official in a game last week (our first action in about SIX months, due to COVID) and my AR indicated an offside infraction.

Problem was, the play was in my corner and the flag wasn't in my field of vision. Yes, yes: my responsibility.

Anyway, the ball went to the defence and was quickly advanced up the field for a good attempt on the other goal.

My other AR mentioned "offside" as he headed up field, which confused me a bit. By this time, the original AR had put the flag down, so play continued.

In post-half discussion, the original AR asserted that 'advantage' is not an option on offside infractions.

I said I'd check into that... meaning I'd come here :).

On this play, I wasn't even aware of the flag, so I didn't knowingly allow the aggrieved team to play their advantage.

I know I have forgone an offside call if the ball has ended up in the keeper's hands and they are able to freely play it. To stop the game there and require a free kick seems silly. Is this not a routine practice? If so, it is a form of advantage.

So, if an offside player contacts a ball and it goes harmlessly to a defender who can make a good play: do we stop the game?

I'll agree: we don't call "Advantage! Play on!" with offside calls. There is some grey area, though, isn't there?

I know we don't want to see an AR's flag being waved down TOO many times in a game that's an issue. Should there be more wait-and-see, though, before the flag goes up?

As always: thanks for the efforts of all on the panel.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
Thanks for the question and its great that games are being played again.
To answer your question there is no restriction on playing advantage and it is allowed on any of the Laws including offside. Generally it is not advised to play a defensive advantage in the last third as if it goes pear shaped then it can cause a problem for the game. The same would apply to offside yet if the team in possession wants to get on with play and there is a clear advantage then the flag can be waved down and play continues.
In this instance it was not advantage yet rather an unseen flag. This needs to be discussed in the pre match discussion as missed flags do happen and particularly in these situations where the referee does not have the lead AR in view.

My advice to ARs is that if the defending team gains clear control of the ball and heads upfield crossing half-way then the flag should be dropped and the offside offence ignored. If the ball is partly cleared away and the attacking team resume its attack then the flag should stay up and a shout into the CR to draw his attention to the flag. Flags for ball out of play cannot be dropped as it is a matter of fact.

In your particular case the situation was handled correctly as the AR had the knowledge and sense to significantly benefit the offended against team. If you had seen the flag you could have waved the flag down if you believed it was going to benefit the offended against team, which did come to pass.

Last season I had one of these exact same situations and like you I missed the flag. They way play unfolded it would have made no sense to not allow play to continue and while I missed the flag the AR knew that the flag had to be dropped. The way play unfolded very few were looking at the AR anyway with the team in possession now pushing out to follow it counter attack upfield so the AR should be on the move as well to stay with the 2nd last player.

As to wait and see on offside that is something to be very careful about. Yes on a doubtful offside where the AR is unsure then the best decision is to allow play to continue. However if there is a clear offside and the PIOP interferes with play the flag goes up. Also in case where an early flag s helpful then the AR has to make a judgment on that. Waiting for a crash say between a goalkeeper and a PIOP should try to be avoided. We know a PIOP running towards the ball is not an offence and there can be situation where an onside player can get involved or the ball goes out of play.

As to mirroring a flag by the trail AR it is important for the lead AR to make the correct signal. A fluttering flag followed by direction compared to an offside flag should have a bearing on the trail ARs reaction. If he sees that the missed flag was for offside and a decent counter attack is underway then no need to attract the referees attention. However a fluttering flag with say violent conduct committed by the team that is counter attacking clearly has to dealt with immediately.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Barry,
Law 5 states.
Decisions of the referee
Decisions will be made to the best of the referee's ability according to the Laws of the Game and the ‘spirit of the game’ and will be based on the opinion of the referee, who has the discretion to take appropriate action within the framework of the Laws of the Game.

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

Now after reading this segment where does it say law 11 is not applicable?

If the ball is in IN play, ON the FOP, then why stop play if the other team breaks a law & the result is better for their opponents to keep playing?

This is NOT the same as if the ball exited the FOP into touch which demands a restart be it a corner kick, goal kick or throw-in. The fact it was a missed flag, the advantage concept was not even a consideration. If the AR signals that the ball is out of play, the signal must be maintained until the referee acknowledges it. The other AR should mirror the flag if this is true!

The advice within the LOTG dictates the appropriate circumstances to forgo any action if the flag was raised for offside but went unseen.
If the flag is not immediately seen by the referee, the AR must maintain the signal until it has been acknowledged or the ball is clearly in the control of the defending team.

The old ways of flag-raising were to pop it with an explosive sound, to get the CR's attention! Today advice is NOT to do this but use a firm deliberate sequence. When making a
signal, the AR stops running, faces the field of play, makes eye contact with the
referee and raises the flag with a deliberate (not hasty or exaggerated) motion.

As you noted you accepted the fact no eye contact was there & the flag was missed. These are the details that could be touched on in the pregame

As for an AR asserting to the CR during the post-half discussion, that 'advantage' is not an option on offside infractions, that is simply untrue. There are doubtful offsides in its a best guess that the PIOP WILL affect the play just that he might! While it is true there is little room for the advantage concept to be used effectively which is why it is rarely used, does not mean there will be times to lean away! The location is generally not the best usually defending third has an issue albeit it could be up near midline. However, a keeper with a ball in their hands might be better off to punt or throw a ball out for release than going to the deck inside the PA. The risk factor would be is their evidence of a likely collision to cause VC or USB?

I watched the referee wave off the AR flag! The keeper had caught the ball but the offside opponent who was pursuing that ball gave him a bit of a marginal bump to which the keeper two-handed him a ball punch in the face in retaliation. Forcing a red card for VC to be shown to each participant given the referee did not want to send off ONLY the keeper. However, the bump by the attacker was marginal from momentum and more of a USB. A quicker whistle to restart with the INDFK for offside might have avoided these shenanigans. There is too a verbal intervention that might have been uttered. "You got the ball in hand, get on with it!

It was a few years ago the PIOP had traveled back across the midline and headed a high arcing ball uncontrollably off his head out to an opponent near the touchline who launched a long kick back into the goal that caught the keeper still up by the PA arc. It was a goal but the flag was up by the far AR claiming offside by the dude who headed the ball albeit he crossed back into his own half. Now, do you think if we disallowed the goal and started with an INDFK back at midline the team that scored would appreciate losing the goal to what at best was a weak offside free kick in their favor? Would you not agree that it was advantageous to overlook the flag in this incident?

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Barry,
I have seen this sort of comment before - some referees think that advantage only applies to Law 12. There has never been anything in the laws or any other circular supporting this.
I wonder if it's a misconception stemming from advantage not being applicable to an incorrect restart?
Who knows....anyway, with offside, we can absolutely apply advantage - although conventionally we don't typically signal it.
In response to any shouts for offside, I'd normally respond with 'your team/keeper has the ball, keep playing' - sometimes, especially with younger/less experienced ARs, I'd follow up with a 'thank you!' and thumbs up to the AR, or 'thank you John!' - though as an experienced AR, I neither needed nor wanted such acknowledgement!

Your approach with allowing play to continue if the keeper has the ball is the correct one - as long as you're considering what you'd do if the offside infringement was actually 2o yards up the field, or 30...

As to your question on the 'wait and see' - that simply means waiting until the offence has occurred, rather than flagging for an offside offence that's about to occur. For instance, if a ball is played, waiting until the touch, rather than flagging just because it looks like it's going to a PIOP (and there are times when an early flag is still best). Maybe the flag did go up after an actual offence had occurred - but ARs need to consider making their own judgement if play goes up the other end of the field.

As for your other AR trying to help here (also seemingly not recognising that the flag should have gone down) - I like the far AR drawing the ref's attention to a missed flag, but if he recognised it was for offside then he should have recognised the flag should have gone down (sounds like a matter of experience).

Ideally, he should be making it clear that he's drawing your attention to the other AR, rather than simply naming an offence. Calling your name and pointing to / saying the other AR's name, for instance. Some refs even like that AR to raise the flag themselves, then point to the other AR when the ref spots it (could be a good technique especially if that AR can see that the ref ABSOLUTELY needs to deal with that flag).

As you've seen here, it can potentially be overdone - it's more effective with ARs who have experience to make the appropriate judgement.

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