Three questions about the same incident. The comprehensive answer is, as usual, at the bottom of the item.

A. Please evaluate the actions taken by the referee in the following scenario:

As red #6 makes a pass from the middle third of the field, blue #8 comes in late with a clearly reckless tackle. The pass finds red with an excellent attacking opportunity with pace toward the blue’s goal and numerical advantage. The referee opts to invoke the advantage clause.

The attack ends when red #10 takes a shot on goal which is handled and held by blue’s goalkeeper.

At this point, the referee stops the match to deal with blue #8’s misconduct, and awards red an indirect free kick from the point of the original offense.

Has the referee taken appropriate action in this case? If not, what are the referee’s options?

B. UEFA Champions League Final…

I realize you can’t officially comment on what FIFA referees do or don’t do, but if this were to occur in a USSF-sanctioned match…

2nd half, Barcelona player gets recklessly fouled by a Man U player in Barca’s defensive half. Referee plays the advantage for Barca.

Attack is continued while fouled Barca player is down and injured.

Shot on goal is eventually taken by Barcelona but saved by Man U goalkeeper, who then distributes ball to Man U teammates. Barca player is still down and referee still plans on issuing yellow card to original Man U player that committed the foul. Man U eventually plays the ball into touch, but is this sequence of events a good candidate for applying the fact that fouls and misconduct are two separate things by stopping play to deal with the misconduct once the advantage had been “spent” so to speak?

C. The referee has applied advantage to a foul that also involves a cardable offense, and plans to award the card after the advantage has dissipated. The resultant attack ends with a save and possession by the ‘keeper. The questions are: 1. Can the referee stop play at this time (to give the card), or must the referee wait until the ball next goes out of play before giving the card? 2. If the answer to #1 is the first option, is the restart an IFK or dropped ball? 3. Where?

USSF answer (May 28, 2009):
The referee has a very brief span of time in which to decide whether or not the advantage has been realized, no more than 2-3 seconds. If the advantage was not realized within the 2-3 seconds, then the original foul gets called, the yellow card is shown to Blue #8, and the restart is a direct free kick where the tackle occurred.

However, if the advantage was realized and maintained but then lost (as it clearly was when the GK saved the shot on goal), then the referee’s actions were entirely correct — the foul tackle is gone, the referee stopped play solely to handle the misconduct (reckless foul), and he restarted with an indirect free kick (stoppage for misconduct committed on the field during play by a player) where the misconduct occurred.

The only thing worth additional comment (simply because most referees would have failed to recognize what this referee recognized) is that the referee stopped play to deal with the misconduct when the advantage disappeared, rather than waiting for the so-called “natural” stoppage (the ball leaving the field) in order to come back to #8. There is no need to wait for a “natural” stoppage to come back and punish the miscreant.

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