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Question Number: 32125

Law 5 - The Referee 12/24/2017

RE: Adult

Martin Gorrie of Glasgow, US Residents Only United Kingdom asks...

How long should an advantage be played?

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Until it's clear that it's resolved. Sometimes you know that immediately. Generally it takes no more than a few seconds or 2 or 3 touches to be clear that the advantage was realized. Or that you know there really wasn't much of an advantage to be had at all.

Don't confuse it with a player who had a true advantage and then didn't act on it. For example, she may pass the ball to a player who's not open, or may take a weak shot that goes high or wide. That's simply a mistake made by a player, not an advantage that didn't ensue.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Martin,
There is actually no specified time within which the referee has to make a decision. The laws merely say that the referee:

''allows play to continue when an offence occurs and the non-offending team will benefit from the advantage and penalises the offence if the anticipated advantage does not ensue at that time or within a few seconds.''

I would say that based on my experience and observation, the tendency has been for some time now, to allow more time than used to be common in the past. In the Premier League this weekend (can't remember which game) I saw what was probably the longest delay I've ever seen between a foul occurring and the referee deciding the advantage had not been realised. There was a phase of play that probably lasted 5 seconds or more, involved multiple touches and where the ball ended up some 20 yards further up the field before the referee brought it back for the foul. In fact it reminded me very much of an advantage call in Rugby, where play can continue almost indefinitely and there is no time limit before the referee has to decide.

I think the feeling is that it is within the 'spirit of the game' for advantage not to be called too quickly or at least not as quickly as it used to be, encouraged in part by the IFAB especially when they changed the law on advantage in 1996 from saying that a referee could not reverse an advantage call if the advantage was not realised, to saying that ''if the anticipated advantage does not accrue, the referee shall penalise the original offence.'' Subsequent FIFA Q&A answers and other small tweaks to the law regarding roughly the number of seconds to allow and the fact that any mention of a time delay was subsequently removed all seemed to me to reinforce the idea that the referee should have a little more leeway on allowing play to continue before calling play back for the original offence.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Martin,
my colleague Ref Grove has it pegged correctly, there HAS ben a definite shift in extending the time for advantage to truly permit a real opportunity to unfold not just a chance for continued play. I personal remain quiet and adopt a wait and see approach in around the goal. Outside the PA if I apply advantage, I shout, 'ADVANTAGE!' and sweep the arm(s), then wait to see what develops. When I am HAPPY and CONVINCED, the advantage WAS realized, I shout PLAY ON! and drop the arms. I have waited as long as 5 to 6 seconds on many occasions but some times the situation is transparent and 2 or 3 seconds is all that was required! .

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Martin
The Laws tells us *within a few seconds*. In a game a few seconds can be a lot of play.
Now the skill in playing advantage is knowing the situations that it will develop to the benefit of the fouled against team. A really true advantage will rarely involve bringing play back yet it does happen. The other more challenging one is where there is a clear advantage which is not played. Case in point was the recent Real Madrid v Barcelona game where there was a clear advantage on a goal which was scored and the referee was too quick by awarding a penalty kick instead of playing advantage. Barcelona did not complain as they got a penalty and an opponent was sent off. I have though seen situations where the penalty kick has been missed.
In the famous Arsenal v Barcelona Champions League final advantage was not played on a foul by Leahman which Barcelona had scored from had advantage been played. The goal was disallowed and Barca did not score from the resultant free kick. It took Barca until the 79th minute to equalise and then went on to win.

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