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Question Number: 21025

Law 5 - The Referee 3/23/2009

RE: rec Adult

alex of Richmond Hill, ontario canada asks...

This question is a follow up to question 21006

From the answers given, it is clear to me that advantage should be given if there is a clear benefit to the team being fouled.

However you often hear (even in referee circles) that advantage is used to keep the game flowing and avoid stoppages because the team being fouled still have possession of the ball. Is this argument valid?

Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

That sounds like a confusion of the use of advantage with not calling a trifling or doubtful offense. Trifling and doubtful are not the same thing - a trifling offense might be a deliberate tripping by one team against the star attacker - but the trip doesn't succeed and doesn't even slow him down. Doubtful offenses are those that smell a bit funny, look a bit odd, but we can't say for sure an offense occurred. Sometimes they occur together, like fouls and misconduct - not the same, but related.

The LOTG do not require us to call every offense that occurs. If we did, there would be no flow, no beauty, no excitement, no joy. Referees have to learn what is essential to the game - today - here - with these players - to make the right calls. The right calls include not calling things that happen - because the players consider these things trifling to their game, or because there is some doubt as to whether anything punishable even happened, or because the beautiful game itself does not require our attention to that particular transgression today. Ugly throw-ins are an example. These are called more at the lower, learning levels, and less at more experienced levels, because there the focus is getting the game going again.

The use of the advantage call is an attempt to make sure teams benefit from a situation on the field, where if the referee interfered immediately with a call, might cause them to lose a goal or goal-scoring opportunity. Sometimes we have time to make the sweep of the arms and call out 'PLAY ON!' Sometimes we don't, as the ball is making it's way into the back of the net, at the moment the attacker is chopped down. Swallow the whistle, allow the goal, send off the chopper - all is well.

Using advantage also means the referee has the choice to return to the original offense, if the advantage doesn't quickly materialize as expected.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Tactically a referee cannot interfere in a match, one can only anticipate and to a certain extent have some faith that the team/player just fouled is going to make GOOD use of that possession from the REALIZATION of an actual advantage.

The truth is advantage is NOT a guarantee only a possibility or opportunity that the aggrieved player or team could benefit beyond the free kick, keeping in mind the cardability or retaliatory aspect of the incident.

The niggling or tiny fouls that go unchecked could be the referee's realization there is no adverse affect in letting this pass so he can bend the match's tolerance level to the PLAYER'S acceptable level of FAIR PLAY. If the foul is a simple nudge or shirt pull and the player fights through it could be considered trifling and acceptable as fair play with no need to signal advantage or to stop play.

Yet to be BLIND to the fact that a player is hacked all the way down the field with shots to the ankle, fist clenched jerseys or arms draped across the shoulder a referee's silence is in fact DEAFENING! The referee MUST RECOGNIZE the NEED to intervene or NOT intervene in a positive way.

Advantage is NOT about possession it is about FAIRNESS!
When an opponent FOULS a player he is cheating!
A referee must consider whether retaining ball possession will allow for a credible attacking opportunity or definite scoring opportunity versus:
A Free Kick? Many players are very good dead ball hitters
Man management? Over all team approach, the big picture!
Persistent infringement? Niggling fouls add up after time!
The possibility of retaliation? Talk, keep them aware you are on top of things.
Read the play and the players? Is the player able to play through the event?
It is frustrating to call out advantage only for the fouled player to turn and retaliate or stop the ball with their hands screaming for you to do something
Cardable conduct? Misconduct can keep tilt the next stoppage but should it and do not forget who. Be sure your ARs are in on the information!
Age and skill sets? Ball possession is not good enough if there are no options better than the free kick and dealing with the misconduct!

Advantage is a TOOL much like the whistle, in that the players HEAR the justice in the sounds and signal! The difference is advantage allows a PAUSE or a CONSIDERATION of a few seconds before a stoppage is actually incurred or to await a favorable outcome with no stoppage necessary! Whereas a whistle signals PLAY is dead! When the referee shouts ADVANTAGE and sweeps the arms he communicates to all but ESPECIALLY to the fouled player, "I SAW it! I am dealing with it! He has failed to stop you! I think your prospect of attack is better than the free kick! When the "PLAY ON!" cry follows, it is the opinion of the referee that the advantage is or was realized and there will be no whistle!

For an advantage to be realized the subsequent opportunity to attack or score MUST be free and clear of the EFFECTS of the foul!

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

I would totally disagree with that statement. Advantage is given, as you rightly say, when it will be advantageous for the fouled team not to call the foul. You don't blow the whistle for trifling fouls to keep the game flowing smoothly

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Answer provided by Referee Steve Montanino

Referee's should be considering how best to improve match flow and therefore enhance player and spectator entertainment and enjoyment. This is done by the referee setting an appropriate tolerance level for contact between opponents. The referee can do this by the intelligent use of risk taking (aka risk/reward thinking) which is allowing play to continue if the tactical value of a play has been preserved. However the referee must balance match flow and entertainment value with player safety which is the paramount concern. Safety is a direct relationship to match control. If there is low match control then the referee must take less risk, more control means more risk is acceptable. In all cases the referee MUST punish and properly sanction all cases of 100% misconduct, failing to do this will result in a loss of control and a match that no one will enjoy.

Advantage may play a part in the risk-taking element of the idea I just described, however you do not simply use advantage to allow play to continue unless there was a legitimate foul that you would have called elsewhere on the field.

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