The Advantage Rule in soccer explained

Referee enforces the advantage rule when he chooses to allow play to continue if an offense has been made against the team in possession of the ballDefinition of The Advantage Rule

Fouls are often committed during a soccer match. It is the responsibility of the referee to call out these offences and punish those players failing to adhere to the Laws of the Game. However, there are times when the referee lets the play to continue despite an obvious foul being committed. This exclusive power bestowed on the soccer referee is expressed under the Advantage Rule.

Under the Laws of the game, a referee can allow the play to continue when an attacking player is fouled and the attacking team remains to benefit from the advantage granted at the time. Else, the referee has to punish the offence immediately and restart the play. The clause explicitly allows the referee to let the fouled team to continue with play rather than cause them more harm by calling the apparent offence right away.

How The Advantage Rule works

“Play On” is allowed in instances where awarding a free kick would clearly be in the benefit of the offending team. The rule is applied whenever violations occur during active play. This excludes infringements that basically require the game to be restarted such as kicking the ball before it hits the surface on a drop ball.

It is not just the chance to continue with attack that a referee has to consider. The other crucial factor taken into account is the severity of the infringement. The referee also considers the position where the foul was committed as well as the atmosphere of the game.

The Advantage Clause is partially left out for the Referee, as well as fans, to interpret. If a misconduct occurs and the referee lets the play to go on, he is supposed to show the appropriate card to the offender at the next stoppage. A card that is not shown once the ball is out of play cannot be shown later. It is important to note that hard fouls are not waived off to allow for advantage, unless the opportunity would clearly lead to a goal.

This rule is claimed to be subjective on occasions. It is made more interesting as the Laws do not expressly state the precise time that the referee has to allow for the anticipated advantage to be played. The referee is required to decide within a few seconds. He or she plays the advantage by calling out “Play On” then motioning for the game to proceed by extending both arms. On the other hand, the referee can still call for the original foul if the expected advantage fails to occur.

So, when does it seem pertinent to allow the advantage instead of calling out a foul? Well, a foul committed by a defending player in the midfield or close to or inside his penalty area normally leads to the use of the rule. If the attacking team ends up committing a foul inside or close to the penalty area of the defending team, then allowing a free kick is the more rational approach. Generally, the advantage rule is often applied when the play is at the midfield or close to the opponent’s goal.

Example of The Advantage Rule

Take for instance a player is initiating an attack. The player in possession of the ball manages to pass the ball to a fellow player in an onside position within the penalty area of the opponent. Upon completing the pass, he gets fouled immediately though the ball gets to the other player who is in a clear position to effect the attack.

The referee allows the play to go on rather than award a free kick. Passing the ball to an open forward player sets an eminent attack and clearly benefits the attacking team despite the first player getting fouled. In that moment, the referee applies the Advantage Rule hence providing the attacking team with an opportunity to score before attending to the foul committed. Now that the attacking team has the opportunity, even to score a goal, they cannot claim the initial free kick in case the attack fails to materialize. After the ball goes out of play, the referee embarks on addressing the foul committed.

Just like the other Laws of the Game, the Advantage Rule is meant to ensure smooth flow of the game mainly with minimum stoppages. It is a rule that adds excitement to the play leaving the most skilled strikers who can dribble past defenders to utilize it fully even after an attempt to impede their movement towards the opponent’s goal.