The Advantage Clause

Under the Referee’s Powers and Duties outlined in Law 5 of the Laws of The Game, the referee “allows play to continue when the team against which an offence has been committed will benefit from such an advantage and penalizes the original offence if the anticipated advantage does not ensue at that time.”

All too often this becomes the excuse for not blowing the whistle.  Playing a lot of advantage means that the official either misses a lot of fouls or is hesitant to call the ones he/she sees.  Some notes about ADVANTAGE:

  • Never use advantage for a foul against a goalkeeper.
  • Never use advantage for a penal foul (one inside the penalty area) unless an immediate goal is scored against the team that committed the foul.
  • The use of advantage does not negate disciplinary action.  Showing a yellow or red card must be done at the next stoppage and before the restart of play.
  • Advantage works against game control.  The tougher the game, the more control the referee wants or needs, the less advantage should be used.
  • The ability of the players to understand when and why a referee decides to give advantage must be taken into account.  When feelings of retaliation may build within a player or team and may lead to an altercation, it is better to call and deal with the foul.
  • Once the referee has signaled “advantage” to a player or team and the advantage has in fact occurred, the referee is not allowed to later call the foul if the player/team fails to capitalize on the advantage given.
  • When an advantage is given to a player but is immediately (normally within a couple of seconds) taken away by an opponent before the advantage materializes, the referee may stop play and penalize the original foul.

Referees who boast about applying a lot of advantage during a match may in fact be demonstrating a weakness rather than a strength in their officiating.

Pat FerrePat Ferre ,USSF Referee Grade 15 Emeritus, USSF Referee Instructor, USSF Referee Assessor, USSF Referee Assignor, District-7 Youth Referee Administrator (DYRA)