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Rules Question? - ASK the INTERPRETER

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
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Soccer Rules Interpreter Ted Kitsis

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Frequently asked Questions and Interpretations


QUESTION:  I am looking for clarification on the "Advantage rule"

In our game on Saturday, we had a player tripped from behind inside the 18 and the official called advantage?? I am unaware of ever having heard that called inside the 18. When questioned, the official said you can call advantage anywhere on the field of play. Is that correct?

INTERPRETATION:  I have discussed this very same issue with other referees, but have never seen it on any of my games.  Unfortunately, the NFHS rule book (nor the NCAA) doesn't provide a tremendous amount of guidance on how a referee should apply advantage, other than to indicate that the referee may not penalize the offending team if that action will give an advantage to the offending team. 


The real question is can this same logic be applied in the penalty area?  The short answer, based on the information that I found is, Yes!    But the mechanics and the criteria of applying advantage in the penalty area are vastly different than in other parts of the field.  In the open field the referee applies advantage when the offensive team has a reasonable change of advancing the ball with a possibility of scoring a goal.  In the penalty area the "reasonable" and "possible" aspects of advantage goes away.  They are in turn replaced by "certainty" and "immediacy" of scoring a goal on that play or the next pass.  Based on information I found on the internet, a team has a 70-75% chance of scoring a goal on a penalty kick.  So an advantage can be given in the penalty area when the odds of scoring are 100%.


The other interesting part of applying advantage in the penalty area is the suggested mechanics.  Since we are looking for certainty and immediacy in a very confined area, we don't have the time nor do we want to confuse the defense, by calling out "play-on" with an under swing of the arms.  Rather they recommend to delay the call for 2-3 seconds to see what happens.  If a goal is scored, play on; if a goal is not, then PK.  Easier said than done in a live game situation.

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