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Question Number: 34362

Mechanics 9/30/2021

RE: 7 Adult

ray JOSEPH sharman of broughton astley, leicestershire United Kingdom asks...

after the referee plays advantage can a player refuse the advantage and ask for a free kick or deliberately kick it to the opposition so he does not have the advantage

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

 Hi Ray,
it is a great question!
As a coach & as a player I consider the referee a match condition, to overcome or work with, much like the weather or pitch surface, you adapt, you play, looking for weakness or strength. But a quick answer is carefully and only under certain consditions.

From a referees perspective advantage is a tool that can be used effectively or ineffectively. It can be applied when it should not be and not applied when it should be.

For the Good of the Game is a very instructive referee book written by Bob Evans & Ed Bellion. Ed related this story about his refereeing a match with Maradona being henpecked by the defenders because he was so strong on the ball. Rather than let play go or offer advantage Ed chose to award the fouls thinking he was protecting a star player when at another stoppage it was a frustrated Maradona who pleaded with him, "Why are you stopping me all the time???" Surprised Ed near swallows his whistle thinking he was trying to protect whereas Maradona just wanted to play through the crap.

It is undeniable, the exultation an official feels (even if we do not show it) when having applied an advantage, the non guaranteed outcome results in the ball having passed under the crossbar, between the posts and over the goal line into the goal, resting in the back of the netting, highlighting the fact that attack the defenders had tried to stop by unfair play, failed miserably!

This clip is my all time favourite and it show the beauty of intelligence, integrity and an awareness few in the game possess.
1 minute 7 seconds in have a good look at the advantage he signals
look again at 2 minutes 7 seconds no signal but it was in his mind

The referee at the centre of World Cup storm - YouTube

Advantage as a concept is a good idea, why stop play if the fouled team does not immediately benefit from doing so? The idea we can WAIT to see an outcome of sorts (not every advantage winds up as a goal) The beauty is if there is NO ADVANTAGE realized we can bring it back & begin again. There are risk rewards and like the question you raise is the advantage we hope to see what a player wants or can effectively use?

These are usually in the buildup of attacking play. Generally, best used in the mid or attacking 3rd but there are exceptions where a foul might be further back in the defending third but a long clearance or punt out might have sprung an attack.

We do have what I call silent advantages,  which are better under certain conditions rather than calling out the words or whistle play dead, we wait just a bit to see what occurs.  Say a DH in the PA deflects to another attacker or that ball is still on its way into the goal?  You delay that whistle & a goal occurs? You restart kick off, the team with the goal is happy, the defender who may have been sent off is relived, it's a win win lol.

You blow early & after that whistle or as it sounds the ball is in the back of the goal?  You have no goal, a pk likely, a card or send off, and if the PK misses or is saved? Well do you remember that great feeling you get on a GOOD advantage? It is significantly missing here!

Players are not obligated to play tactically smart although they often do they are emotional and reactive in a way we are not.

A basic precept for me is if one team has committed a foul or misconduct & acted unsporting or unfair I see little reason to reward them with an iffy advantage call as being completed ignoring that transgression just because the team makes a hasty offside pass as he was struggling to retain balance or chooses to go down and handles the ball wanting his free kick rather than pick themselves up or fight through that foul. Not everyone had Maradona abilities! For me advantage, although, we might have been considering it CLEARLY never occurred. We are going back to the spot of the foul!

I have a very specific way that I call out and signal advantage, as an older dude it is ingrained and hard to change. When I SPOT the transgression and my thinking starts to mull over advantage possibility verses the need for possible verbal intervention or a quick whistle. I call out loudly ADVANTAGE! & signal with the arm sweep two handed but apparently one handed nowadays is preferable so as to control the whistle & perhaps better balance with a faster pursuit pace

The idea of verbally calling out ADVANTAGE is extremely important as it attempts to head off retaliation for the foul just perpetrated by virtue of acknowledging that you in fact HAVE seen it. You did not miss it or ignore it! Now the player/team fouled is aware they have options to continue. Your query what if they do not want to?

Generally by body language, behaviour, attitude even dissent we get a general idea ifthey want to fight through or are resigned to a free kick. Then if the player is trying to stay the course there is the secondary follow up fouls/misconduct where an opponent might be harrasing the player from recovering easily. This is dangerous as retailation & a desire to stop to confront will be in their mindset rsther than pursue any concievable advantage! I also recommend that if a referee applies advantage, when a moment arises, query the player, “You were ok playing through that?' If it did not amount to much.

There is the waiting developing period where we observe is there an advantage to be had? Is that advantage NOW realized within that 2 to 5 second window you as the referee had decided it was in the aggrieved teams best interest to let play continue than to award that free kick? You NOW yell out, PLAY ON! & drop the arm sweep. Effectively sealing the deal that we are NOT going back to the point of the foul although card conditions might still be carried forward at the next stoppage if there was a need.

In my match should a player NOW decide to do as you say and not accept and handle said ball chances are he would not be happy. In this case I see it as the advantage WAS realized and this is a new phase and unfortunately his actions discredit mine.

Key point though, when you do silent advantages or rather use wait and see moments ignoring these fouls CAN NOT Be permitted even if you allowed play to proceed. In cases where say the keeper is bumped,  it can lead to massive confrontation or a retaliation. So VERBALLY warn the offender, reassuring the keeper, SAW IT!  Did not like it! but you have the ball in your hands? In essence the exact response to your question, by gauging his reactions you are effectively asking the keeper,

Do you want the free kick on the ground or are you good to go & punt it out 12 yd up field?

Do not misunderstand sometimes you must drop the hammer and go with a free kick and show the card to set the bar. In as much as a referee manages a match, setting an example by your presence, effort and body language you need to be taking cues & gauge the reactions of the players.  It is why that elbow being fired back or that pay back challenge shows up.

Yes, we expect players to behave in a sporting manner but they trust us more if we SHOW them, we are aware and on top of the incidents when their safety is compromised. On an advantage with cardable misconduct I call out to my Ars, Number 15 yellow you are in the book we will talk later assisting me to remember who to card at the next stoppage only if necessary. New LOTG actually forbid certain reasons to caution if we do allow attacking play to continue. These actions reaffirm once again letting the player who just got blitzed or possibly savaged in that tackle/foul NOT to worry, just keep playing.

Certainly factors like skill level, technical ability & cognitive awareness could play a much greater role in reducing the advantage situations in some cases with less consideration in others.

Coaches for younger teams will frequently prefer the attacking free kick over an advantage often because they have no confidence in their players ability to actually benefit more as they often have a star player with a thunder stick for a leg.

Whereas they are all smiles if a referee is astute enough to pander to their inability to disperse the ball well. Say where a keeper might have been jostled, foul was there, but not necessarily card able. While a a free kick could be awarded on the ground, the ball is in their hands so they have 6 seconds to run out 12 more yards to the edge if the PA and play the ball downfield. Maybe they have a weak kick or a strong wind to contend with.

 I had a group of young ladies playing where a player jumped up in a crowd with arms up and the ball deflected off those hands out of a crowd to a single attacker inside the D of the penalty arc some 15 yds away from anyone with only the keeper in goal ahead of her. It was as good an advantage as any player at any level could hope for yet the SCREAMS for the foul by the adult coaches paralyzed the girls as I was blithely trying to allow this young lady this clear advantage. They were livid but the young girl regained her composure dribbled in on the keeper shot and scored her VERY first goal. The irony is that both sets of coaches were mad that I never awarded the foul claiming their screaming of Hand ball ref ,Hand ball ref stopped the players including the keeper from responding properly. My reply of maybe do not scream so much was not well received.

I have a belief that no referee likes to be embarrassed or have a player or coach publicly dissent a call but keep this in mind as a neutral official be leery of thinking it is your game, it is not, it is your match, but it is ALWAYS the players' GAME! We endeavour to manage their conduct through our decisions in the match so that the game can continue. But then I used to really enjoy those silent Sundays when the adults and coaches if the teams were told no yelling ONLY positive comments lol Cheers

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

I saw this debated on a forum where referees were divided on the question.
One referee recounted how a player picked up the ball and said to him that **we will have the free kick**! Some suggested that they would have called a handling offence while others opined that they would have gone with the player’s request which is what the referee did.

As to kicking the ball away that is a questionable tactic as the referee can opine that the team had the advantage yet squandered it. I have on occasions played advantage only on the next phase of play the ball is lost through poor execution of a pass or poor choice of play. Tough luck with moans of where is the advantage in that. Bringing play back to the original foul is not a way of making up for subsequent mistakes.

I watched a repeat programme recently on the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa. It was a difficult game to officiate for Howard Webb and there was an incident where Robben of the Netherlands was fouled by Puyol of Spain. Puyol was already cautioned and in fairness to Robben he kept going with what looked like advantage played. Robben lost the ball to the Spanish goalkeeper a few seconds later. I suppose Robben could have gone down and not taken the advantage opportunity. It certainly would have resulted in a dismissal for Puyol maybe even a straight DOGSO red card not that it would have made difference as it was still a dismissal.

Later in tne same game Hettiga fouled Iniesta in front of goal
Unlike Robben, Iniesta did not keep going and maybe couldn’t yet by his action there was no possibility of the referee playing advantage. It was a sort of we will take the free kick plus maybe the knowledge of a probable dismissal which came to pass.

So I believe that if players do not want advantage they will go down or stop playing gesturing about the offence rather than kicking the ball away aimlessly. If they stop playing there is no possibility of advantage.

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