To: National Referees
State Referee Administrators
State Directors of Instruction
State Directors of Assessment
State Directors of Coaching
From: Alfred Kleinaitis
Manager of Referee Development and Education
Subject: Advantage in the Penalty Area
Date: April 11, 2008
Special circumstances govern the application of advantage for offenses committed
by defenders inside their own penalty area. Although the basic concept of advantage
remains the same, the specific decision by the referee must be governed by both the close
proximity to the goal and the likelihood of scoring from the penalty kick restart if play is
stopped instead of applying advantage.
The basic elements of the decision are straightforward:
• Advantage is a team concept and thus the referee must be aware not only
of the fouled player's ability to continue his or her attack but also of the
ability of any of the player's teammates to continue the attack themselves.
• Advantage has been applied when the decision is made, not when the
advantage signal is given. The signal itself may often be delayed for 2-3
seconds while the referee evaluates the advantage situation to determine if
it will continue.
• Where it does not continue, the Laws of the Game provide for the referee
to stop play for the original foul.
• If the original foul involved violence, the referee is advised not to apply
advantage unless there is an immediate chance of scoring a goal.
Inside the penalty area, the competitive tension is much greater and the referee is called
upon to make quicker decisions. The time during which the referee looks for advantage
to continue becomes defined by the probability of scoring a goal directly following the
foul or from the subsequent play.
In the attached clip of an incident occurring in the 27th minute of a match on April 9
between New England and Kansas City. NE defender #31 (Nyassi) fouls KC attacker #11
(Morsink) near the top of the penalty area. Just as Morsink is fouled, however, he passes
the ball to his teammate #19 (Sealy).
The referee properly recognized the advantage but then whistled for the foul against
Morsink after he decided that a goal would not be scored by Sealy. In fact, Sealy made a
shot on goal just as the whistle sounded and the ball failed to enter the net.
• In the absence of a whistle stopping play and if the ball had entered the net, the
advantage would clearly have continued and the goal would be counted.
• If, in this case, the ball had entered the goal after the whistle had sounded, the
goal could not be counted.
• Ideally, the referee in this incident should have delayed stopping play for the
original foul until he saw more concretely what Sealy would have been able
to do with the ball.
In this incident, the penalty kick for the original foul was successful.