Your Letters & Pictures

'The right call', by Ref. Vangelis. October 2006

Oct. 4

Dear Ref. Vangelis,

Does the advantage rule applies in the case where a player in the offence suffers a foul in the penalty area (that needs to be awarded a penalty) if the ball ends in the net or in case another teammate benefits from the rebound and scores? Or is it that the penalty should be awarded and the goal not to count?


Answer: The advantage clause can be applied in this situation you are describing above. As a matter of fact, it might even be best to do so.

Let’s take a look at Law 5 where the advantage clause is mentioned.

Law 5 states that: “The referee allows play to continue when the team against which an offense has been committed will benefit from such an advantage and penalizes the original offense if the anticipated advantage does not ensue at that time”. As we can see from the quotation of the advantage clause listed above, the current law is giving the referee an opportunity to apply the advantage and then penalize the original foul if the anticipated advantage is not realized.

In the past before this change was implemented, it was more difficult for referees to apply the advantage in the penalty area because the law did not allow the referee to take back a decision and penalize the original offense if he applied an advantage and such was not realized. (By all means this does not mean giving the player a second chance).

As a result of this change in the law which is a very good one, the referee can apply the advantage at any location of the field including the penalty area much easier now than it has been in the past.
Back in June, I answered a similar question. I would like to mention again some of the benefits of applying the advantage in a situation as described above.

If the referee calls a PK, he may also have to send off and show the red card to the defender who committed the foul if he denied an obvious goal scoring opportunity to an opponent who was moving toward the player’s goal. How much better it would be if the referee is not quick with the whistle. He can apply the advantage clause and a goal can be scored. Now more than likely there would be no reason to send off a player. As mentioned back in June, if a goal is directly scored despite the attempted intervention by a defender fouling an opponent, the offender cannot be sent off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity since the goal was not denied.

Of course, the referee can still come back and caution the offender for unsporting behavior or send him off for serious foul play if the foul involved excessive force. But this would be more unlikely since everyone would probably be happy at the final outcome for obvious reasons. All of these are benefits. The referee can still penalize the original offense and call a PK assuming that the advantage was not realized. I would say that this is the better way to go.

Ref Vangelis


Oct. 11

Dear Ref. Vangelis,

Our team showed up with only 11 players. It was very hot day and we all got very tired. Toward the end of the game one of our players (second to the last defender) seeing that the opponents were attacking with no chance to stop them, decided to step off the field of play indicating that he is no part of the play. The referee allowed play to continue and a goal was scored. We all were very upset with the referee who did not call the offside.

Did he make the right call or we were right?


Answer: The referee made the right call in this situation as you describe it above. In addition to this, it seems to me that the referee could have issued at least a caution for the action of your player for a couple of reasons.

Law 12 is very specific. It states that “A player is cautioned and shown the yellow card if he commits any of the following seven offences:

-Is guilty of unsporting behavior
-Shows dissent by word or action
-Persistently infringes the Laws of the Game
-Delays the restart of play
-Fails to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick, free kick or throw-in
-Enters or re-enters the field of play without the referee’s permission
-Deliberately leaves the field of play without the referee’s permission.

As we can see from the law recorded above, at least two items apply directly to this situation. First, your player exited the field of play without the referee’s permission which deserved a yellow card as was mentioned in item 7. Second, what your player did is considered to be unsporting behavior.

A similar scenario is listed also in the question and answer booklet published by FIFA in 2006. It states that “A defending player moves beyond his own goal line in order to place an opponent in an offside position”. It then asks the question, “What action does the referee take”? It answers: “The referee allows play to continue and cautions the defender for unsporting behavior when the ball is next out of play”.

So the referee made the right call in allowing play to proceed and, therefore, the goal that was scored was valid. However, he should have also cautioned and shown a yellow card to the defender player for unsporting behavior or for leaving the field of play without his permission. Perhaps he took into consideration your team situation and the extreme weather conditions you mentioned above in your scenario.

Ref Vangelis

Oct. 18

Dear Ref. Vangelis,

Last week you explained that a defending player cannot step off the field of play to make an opponent offside. Is there a time that a player can step off the field of play without being penalized by a yellow card for leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission?


Answer: Yes, an attacker who is in an offside position may step off the field of play momentarily in an effort to indicate to the referee that he does not want to participate in the play. In reality this player is not leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission because in fact he is trying to make eye conduct with the referee and he is indicating to him that he does not want to be penalized for his being in such position.

However, if in the opinion of the referee this player is trying to circumvent the law of the game to his advantage then he should be cautioned and shown a yellow card for Unsporting Behavior.

The player will need to stay close to the field of play and he will need to wait for the referee to wave him in as soon as this particular play is over before he re-enters the field of play. The player in this situation will not have to wait for a stoppage of the game to re-enter the field of play.

A similar scenario is listed in the question and answer booklet published by FIFA in 2006. It asks: “Does a referee penalize a player who is in an offside position and moves off the field of play to show the referee that he is not involved in active play?”

It answers: “No. It is not an offence in itself to be in an offside position and there is no need for the player to leave the field of play. However, if the referee considers that he has left the field for tactical reasons and has gained an unfair advantage by re-entering the field of play, the player should be cautioned for unsporting behavior.

Ref Vangelis


Oct. 25

Dear Ref. Vangelis,

Even if the keeper has the enormous advantage of using his hands, he's still the most vulnerable players on the field. When is the ball to be considered in his possession and when is it still in play?

Coach Gianni

Answer: Over the years a number of changes in Law XII have been implemented to avoid time wasting, especially with the goalkeeper. This is so because as stated in the question above, the goalkeeper has an enormous advantage of using his hands and subsequently can stop play and waste valuable time. Let’s take a look at some of these changes.

In 1985 Law XII - Fouls and Misconduct- was modified as follows: “From the moment the ball comes under his (the goalkeeper's) control, he takes more than four steps in any direction whilst holding, bouncing or throwing the ball in the air and catching it again, without releasing the ball into play or having released it into play before, during or after the four steps - he touches it again with his hands before it has been touched or played by another player of the same team outside of the penalty-area, or by a player of the opposing team either inside or outside of the penalty-area”.

In 1991 Law XII was modified again and defined possession of the ball by the goalkeeper. It stated that, “The goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball by touching it with any part of his hands or arms. Possession of the ball would include the goalkeeper intentionally parrying the ball, but would not include the circumstances, where, in the opinion of the referee, the ball rebounds accidentally from the goalkeeper, for example after he has made a save”.

Finally in 2000, Law XII was modified as follows: “An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper inside his own penalty area takes more than six seconds while controlling the ball with his hands before releasing it from his possession”.

As can be seen from the wording of the law in 1985, the goalkeeper was in possession of the ball while he was holding, bouncing or throwing the ball in the air. He could do so as long as he did not exceed the four step restriction implied by the law. Then in 1991 it was clarified that possession was touching the ball with any part of the hands or arms. Then finally, the six second rule was introduced in the year 2000.

With all these modifications in mind we come now to the official position of FIFA and the USSF on the question listed above - “The goalkeeper is considered to be in possession of the ball while bouncing it on the ground or while throwing it into the air. Possession is given up if, while throwing the ball into the air, it is allowed to strike the ground. While the ball is in the possession of the goalkeeper, it cannot be lawfully played by an opponent, and any attempt to do so may be penalized by a direct free kick”.

Ref Vangelis
Posted on 08 Nov 2006 by coachgianni
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