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Question Number: 28785

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 9/25/2014

RE: high school High School

Troy of Cumberland, Maryland USA asks...

When is advantage realized in the penalty area? does every foul in the PA justify a PK? What about when the ball immediately goes to the offended team. does a missed shot after a foul mean that advantage did not appear?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Troy
Always a difficult decision for the referee. The rules states that if the referee applies the advantage, which was anticipated but does not develop at that time, the referee shall penalize the original offense. The key in that phrase is defining does not develop and that applies everywhere on the field of play including the penalty area.
We know from the rules that if a player gets a shot away in a manner that has not been affected by the foul that advantage has been realised and therefore play is not brought back for the foul and the penalty. So a missed shot does not mean that advantage was not realised.
I can give two examples. A player is fouled, stumbles forward and while still off balance from the foul just about manages to get a weak shot off. Advantage has not been realised here. Say on the other hand the player is fouled, stumbles forward, regains control of the ball, takes a number of touches and gets a normal shot off that goes wide. Advantage has been realised and the restart is a goal kick. Those examples are at either the end of the scale. Put scenarios in the middle of the scale that are not as clear cut and it can go either way although the penalty kick may be the more favoured option as the penalty can most times be the most advantageous option to the fouled against team.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Troy,
ITOOTR looms large here .
Even though we are provided criteria as to when or how to apply advantage there will always be some controversy.
When advantage is applied within the penalty area, in my opinion, it is more of a hold your breath wait to see the outcome and then decide. Outside the area we use Play on! and the advantage signal! You might wonder why I assume this to be a good idea? A PK is a very very good scoring opportunity, but a sure goal is better. IF the situation changes where defenders close in, or the angles get narrower then the attempt is thwarted by circumstances to not be as good where a PK is better yet a poke of the ball and it goes through the legs is a good goal. Thus we wait! I can recall many incidents, even at the Champions league and World Cup level, where a too early whistle took away a perfectly good goal or a scoring gimmie . The resulting PK did NOT always find its way into the back of the net! lol

Often there is cautionable USB or even send off misconduct attached to the foul like DOGSO or SFP we hesitate just a bit before blowing our whistle to see if the ball is going to cross that goal line because no way is play going to continue given the severity of the incident, and only a sure goal is going to help wipe away this stain. You start screaming and signalling advantage and play on and there is a miss you might find it difficult to justify the pk and the resulting dissent.

My standard, IF I truly apply advantage in the PA and the striker has no one to pressure him, time and space to easily score and somehow manages to kack it up like shoot over top from 3 feet out I might not award the pk go with the goal kick and shake my head.

Your question is every foul a pk if inside the area is very interesting!

Obviously there are indfk fouls which do not apply but what will create controversy is the same degree of acceptability of tolerance for the DFK fouls outside the PA should still be applied inside the PA, even if that slight nudge has the striker go down like he was hit by an elephant gun inside the PA, whereas out side he was fighting through them all match. By the very same logic if it is a foul you call outside the PA , grab a set of testicles and call it inside the PA!

Not every foul inside is a major league motion picture theatrical collision with exploding body parts. I tug you just right just as you go to shoot, I hook the leg, I push just in the back, I step on the back of the ankle ever so slightly I can make you miss a shot! It is why when a striker feels contact he is almost forced to go down to draw attention.

A missed shot is not a guarantee an advantage was there and squandered as the opportunity to score might be diminished by the preceding events following the foul, ie; defenders close in, angle of attack, off balance etc.. Still in the same breath if the advantage was realized then if the miss and the opposition gets the ball, play continues. Your decision! Your match! Your reputation !is always on display based on everything you choose to do or choose not to do ! lol

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The USSF recommends the following for advantage inside the penalty area on a foul punishable by a penalty kick. Make no signal, but wait a second longer and see. If a goal is not scored immediately, blow the whistle and award the penalty kick. Under this approach, a missed shot is not advantage realized.

This interpretation is not a universal one, and the responses by Ref McHugh and Dawson illustrate the views in some other countries. Moreover, USSF interprestations are not binding on matches played under the (NFHS) high school rules. So, you should confer with your local high school soccer referee association.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


It is good to hear from Cumberland. I had worked high school games out of Frostburg back in the late 90's and still recall the game at Flintstone where a bear came out of the woods onto the field (fortunately prior to the start of the game).

To answer, your question, let's look at the NFHS definition of an Advantage (Rule 18-1-1a): A discretionary judgment which allows an official to permit play to continue rather than stopping play to administer the foul. This concept is based on the premise that the foul did not put the offended team at a disadvantage or the foul, if called may take away a favorable opportunity for the offended team. The foul may be subsequently called if the advantage does not materialize.

Thus, the advantage would be given if by not calling the foul, the offended gets a favorable opportunity (usually to score when in the penalty area). If the team does not get that opportunity, then the foul should be called. If the team gets the opportunity but misses the goal, the foul should not be called.

When dealing with an advantage, the key words are favorable opportunity.

I hope you have a great season and do not run into any bears.

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