My U14 was playing in the championship game today. On a corner kick by the opposing team one of our defenders handled the ball in the penalty box. As the whistle was blowing, or maybe slightly before, an opposing player kicked the ball into the net. The referee denied the goal, but awarded the team a direct free kick. They missed.

We went on to win the game 1-0. Should the ref have denied the goal or should he have played the advantage?

USSF answer (May 4, 2009):
Play stops when the referee DECIDES that a foul has been committed, not at the moment the whistle actually blows. The referee’s decision to blow the whistle may have been hasty, but once made, it cannot be retracted. Thus the advantage could not then be invoked. The referee’s subsequent decision to deny the goal and award a kick was correct; however, because the foul occurred in the penalty area, the restart should have been a penalty kick, not a direct free kick.

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