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Question Number: 29509

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 6/29/2015

Derrek of Appleton, WI United States asks...

How long do you take back an advantage call? Is it like 3-4 seconds usually or what is the general rule?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Derrek,
as a USSF official I suggest you read the ATR (advice to referees) published to help you understand the laws of the game and promote uniformity amongst their officials

Advantage is not easily understood not utilized correctly if you do not grasp the location, skill level and emotional balance of those playing all formulate part of the equation to a good use of not allowing an unfair act to affect play.

For a team to give up the free kick the advantage must be greater than such an uncontested opportunity. The time frame is usually 2 to 3 seconds but I have seen 5 to 6 seconds!

The point is it is ITOOTR if the advantage is ACTUALLY realized or lost by squandering the opportunity. Advantage is not about allowing play to continue it is about NOT stopping play because one team cheated to try and do so and it is of ...GREATER.... benefit for the offended team to continue to attack or score despite the unfair attempt to stop them!


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Derrek
Playing advantage requires skill and a good knowledge of the game. It is the referee answering the question *What happens next*.
Many times the best advantage is the free kick. other times the circumstances present that the team will benefit from allowing play to continue. Generally once 3/5 seconds passes the opportunity to go back may have passed.
So each situation will be different and it has to take in account the age, skill, tempo of the game. There is nothing better than to allow advantage to accrue and to see the fouled against team benefit from allowing play to continue. It also works the other way when a team has advantage and the 5 /7 seconds later squanders the opportunity by kicking the ball away.

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Answer provided by Referee Ben Mueller

The laws of the game allow for 3-4 seconds if the advantage does not pursue. Some referees bend this a little bit, but the book says 3-4 seconds.

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Answer provided by Referee James Sowa


Advantage is in the eye of the beholder. The referee needs to have a firm grasp on the current game situation before deciding to award an advantage decision. Referee Dawson illustrates some excellent considerations. In general, if advantage is not realized in a few (2-4 seconds) then the play should be stopped and brought back for the free kick. It is up to the referee to determine what is required for that game though.

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