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Question Number: 32044

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/22/2017

RE: Rec Adult

peter of Totnes, Devon United Kingdom asks...

The referee sees an infringement, but waves play-on to allow the advantage. The fouled team don't feel that the advantage would be a better scoring opportunity than a free-kick - they're not a great team, but they've got a great spot-kick taker - so they just sort-of stop playing. Is the referee obliged to give a free-kick, as no advantage developed, or would the play just continue, even if the opposing team then got the ball?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Peter,
a referee with experience will grasp the tactical and skill level of those he is in charge off! Most definitely he could consider the desire of the team who requests the spot kicks particular in youth where often a dominant strong player does indeed have an impact and their ability to take advantage of anything other than say a tap in at the goal is suspect.

I have had a situation much like you describe where a young defender jumps up and for whatever reason raised her hands up over her head and contacted a high lobbed ball at the corner edge of the PA which deflected right to a young striker who was in the penalty arc all alone with a CLEAR OBVIOUS ADVANTAGE at a one on one with just the keeper .
As soon as the ball/hand contact occurs literally SCREAMS from the coaches of Handball Ref!, with such ferocity and at a decibel that causes kids to cringe there was a visible relaxation of play in everyone was expecting me to blow the whistle. As I was right beside the young striker I said give it a go & signalled advantage . The young lady was obviously torn between trying to listen to the coaches yelling about the foul to my signal to continue & comprehension as I said to her 'There has been no whistle play!'
When I had my pregame inspection I had SPECIFICALLY told the kids ALWAYS play to the whistle I could see the light bulb come on and away she went deeks the keeper & scores her 1ST goal in competitive play. She was happy parents were ecstatic. Yet the coaches were mad from both sides as they said PLAY must be stopped as it was in their words an obvious foul . Let them play concept was not something they had considered . But to your question if I had thought the advantage was lost due to the screaming and the obvious carnage it created on the field by fully destroying this clear easy shot at the goal I probable would award the foul and just sigh! Then again who is to say? Much as my colleague's point about the inspiration to apply the advantage only to see the player reach down and pick the ball up expecting a free kick. Adults screaming this MUST be so does little to disprove that theory. It is satisfying though to allow an advantage that results in a goal particularly when you can see/HEAR the coaches going ballistic wanting the foul but when they realize what just occurred they suddenly stop and the discourse fades into a mumble or even a nod and wave thumbs up thanks ref I knew you were on it! lol


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
Interesting one. I suspect that if the fouled against team stop playing then there is no advantage to ensue so the foul has to be awarded. That though requires a great presence of mind on behalf of the player with the advantage to NOT play.
I recall a similar question being asked a number of years ago when an experienced player just stopped on the advantage call, lifted up the ball and said to the referee 'We will take the free kick instead'. The referee awarded the free kick to the fouled against team rather than deliberate handling on advantage although he doubted his decision.
During games this always comes up when the referee tries to play advantage. Some teams get very upset if the advantage is not played and some want it both ways of playing it yet looking to come back when it does not accrue. I recall calling a foul last season and getting grief from a player on the fouled against team of not playing advantage. The team scored on a cross from the free kick! So referees always have words with teams about complaints about playing / not playing advantage. I also recall a senior observer saying that there is no point in playing advantage with teams that cannot use it or who do not want it.
So many times the referee takes his cue from the players and the circumstances. If a player wants to get on with play and it would seem to disadvantage him then most referees will let the player get on with it rather than making a tactical decision to go with a free kick. Nothing more satisfying though than playing advantage and it comes off with a goal or goal scoring opportunity. One standout moment for me was some two years ago in the dying moments of an U16 semi final game by playing advantage that resulted in a cross being scored to bring the game to extra time. I suspect some would have taken the free kick in the circumstances yet I just felt it was right to allow play to continue. Probably if no goal was scored the fouled team might have complained that the free kick was of more benefit?

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Peter,
I would say that on balance, referees usually get more criticism for not playing advantage than for playing it. Most teams in my experience, prefer to keep playing when they have the ball and the higher the skill level of the players, the more they seem to want the advantage (probably because they feel they have the skill to benefit from it).

You will occasionally get teams that don't want to keep playing and want the free kick and one of the skills of refereeing is being able to gauge when to play advantage and when to call the free kick. The laws advise that the referee should consider the severity of the offence committed, how close the offence is to the opponent's goal, the chances of an immediate promising attack and the atmosphere of the game.

As for the specific matter of awarding the free kick if the team make it obvious they don't want to keep playing, I would say it depends partly on how quickly things happen but in the end it's (yet another) judgement call for the referee to make.

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