This week's "Laws of the Game - Clarified" will address a query sent in to us by an OPOD reader. To further illustrate his case, he even had the incident on film! Here's what the reader asked about:
"Hi opod, I was hoping that you can run an article on the 'advantage' rule. This incident occurred for my team over the weekend and although the decision was good for us, I did not agree with the referee. Our striker was through on goal but was continually tugged by the defender on the run. The referee whistled for a foul just moments before he managed to take a shot on goal. The shot turned out to be a fantastic one which beat the goalie and went into the goal. Everyone turned to look at the referee as he had afterall whistled before the shot. The referee ruled for the goal to stand and explained to our opponents that if he were to stand by his original decision to award a penalty, he will have to send the defender off for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity. Is this right?"
Click here to view the incident described by the reader.
Do you think the referee made the correct decision? What would you have done if you were the ref?
If we look at the immediate problem, the question would be whether the referee should allow the goal to stand or to award a penalty and the red card. In this case, because he had already blew his whistle, he has no choice but to award the penalty because play is considered to be stopped upon a referee blowing his whistle. Therefore, the referee has made a mistake by saying he will play the advantage and allow the goal to stand since the goal was scored only after his whistle went.
However, this was not the only mistake by the referee. The other mistake which he made was actually the decision to blow the whistle. Clearly, the striker was being tugged by the defender, but he still had every chance of getting to the ball. Hence, the correct action by the referee is to let play go on by not whistling and let the situation further develop. If the striker fails to get to the ball, he can blow for a foul and if the striker successfully gets to the ball, he will just play the advantage.
A referee's whistle is the most powerful tool on the football field. Upon a whistle, play is immediately stopped and anything that ensues cannot be considered to be part of the play.
As such, a referee should never be too frivolous with his whistle and should always allow play to develop should there be a potential "advantage" for the attacking player. Should he decide to whistle for a foul, he then needs to stand by his decision and cannot revert on it by saying he will play the advantage.
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