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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 35251

Law 5 - The Referee 11/25/2023

RE: Competitive Under 15

Jose of Miami, Florida United States asks...

I was told by a referee instructor that, if a player is fouled on his/her defensive third but manages to maintain possession of the ball and proceed forward the referee should never apply the advantage law but, instead blow the whistle, stop play and proceed with the free kick. The reason, I was told, is that advantage should only be applied when the foul is committed on the middle third or offensive third. Do you concur with this instruction

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Jose,

Thank you for your question,

There is a rule of thumb that's taught to referees, that the further from goal, the less likely we should be to play advantage - because the last thing we want is for a player to lose a ball in their own third due to their own decision, but have players blame us for not awarding the FK.

Generally it's safer to give the player the opportunity to kick if 50 yards upfield. With younger players in particular we'll be a little less likely to apply advantage, as with their less experience they may be more likely to squander the advantage.

But we can certainly play advantage in the defensive third - it just needs to be a really clear and safe advantage. Some referees take this guideline, and think it to be a hard-and-fast rule.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jose
This is advice given to referees in an informal way to assist them in officiating games. I have been given this advice and also passed it on as an instructor.
Have I played advantage in the defensive third? Yes on certain obvious situations where the fouled against team would have been disadvantaged by halting play. Example would be a player getting the ball with everyone in the penalty area and the player has 5o yards of clear space to run into or the goalkeeper has the ball and punts it upfield quickly to a team mate in a favourable position.

Now the reason it may not be a good idea is that referees know that at lower levels of the game the ball can be lost quite soon after playing an advantage outside the time when play can be brought back. Say an opponent's attack develops from that loss of possession on advantage the referee will be asked the question where is the advantage. There probably was an advantage yet squandered by poor play.

It is quite rare the times to see or hear teams complaining about advantage not being played certainly not in the defensive third. Teams are happy to take the free kick most of the time so why take the risk of the ball being lost. The referee will rarely hear a complaint about a free kick award in these situations so for inexperienced referees it needs to form part of an advice to help with match control and to give what is expected.
I saw a referee play advantage recently and probably 6/7 seconds later the team lost the ball. It ended up as a dissent caution after a player complained about not giving the free kick. Had the referee given the free kick that would have been the end of it.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Jose,
it is a generalization of sorts as the results do not outweigh the benefits most of the time!
Yet one should Never say Never! lol
A keeper with ball possession in their hands is bumped or hindered by an opponent inside his goal area, no card but an INDFK or DFK puts the ball on the ground instead of walking out another 12 yards and punting it down field? I have warned the opponent and told the keeper "You got in your hands you realty want it on the ground?" If it was cautionable action requiring a card then no advantage is plausable, the free kick is a go.
When a player is instigating a forward movement deep within their defensive 1/3 of the FOP they are usually under some press or pressure if a foul is resulting, so it is true, MOST of the time, a free kick sets things back to square 1, But that is the rub, it STOPS and sets things back? What if there is actually an open track or area of the field where a smart player could send a long ball or string a couple of decisive passes or run into a huge space and catch the opposition unaware? On balance showing good foul recognition and dealing with the defensive third fouls is 95% the best bet than trying to force a great tactical decision out of semi skilled players.

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