Can you please clarify Michael Kennedy’s statement made about the “continuation principle” in the Referee Week in review Week 11 2011.

He stated holding was the only foul where the continuation principle can be applied. Can you tell me what the continuation principle is and where it can be found in the ATR, LOTG, or a position paper? A colleague of mine remembers such a paper, but has since seen it disappear.

The only reference I found was this one from 2008 in this forum:

I ask because I witnessed a situation where two fouls occurred against an attacker heading toward goal outside the penalty area that were “let go” as the player continued on but a third foul challenge brought the player down in the area. The three happened in a matter of seconds, and certainly in the window of the advantage decision allows for. The referee clearly had decided that the first two he was going to apply advantage or had ruled them trifling, but when the player fell in the area he decided to bring the restart to the spot of the first foul.

The assessor pointed to the above reference about continuation for the reason the restart should be a PK. I disagreed, saying the first two fouls had already occurred and was decided, and the referee should be deciding on the third foul alone, resulting in a PK.

I had never heard of this reference before, and it was only fitting to have Michael mention it this week. Pls advise, with thanks.

USSF answer (June 20, 2011):
We are not quite sure where the confusion arises, but it appears as though two different concepts have been conflated into a single question. First, of course, is the issue of advantage (see Advice to Referees 5.6). When one or more fouls happen in sequence just outside the penalty area and advantage is applied to each of them in turn as they happen, a final foul that happens inside the penalty area might well NOT result in an advantage decision, because the requirements for advantage inside the penalty area have suddenly shifted. In this situation, the moment a discrete foul happens inside the PA, the referee need only decide whether a goal would be scored immediately by the fouled player whereas, for the foul(s) outside the PA, the referee need only decide if the fouled player can continue a credible attack on goal. This is conceptually different from the “continuation concept.”

The IFAB’s Q&A 2006 and the current Law book (p. 110) discuss the “continuation concept” solely in terms of a holding offense. Under guidance from FIFA, we can say that the term must NOT be applied to any other offenses.

When faced with an event on the field that is subsequently determined to be a foul, the referee faces three conceptually separate issues:

1. Use of advantage: If the offense happened outside the penalty area, advantage should be used in order to enable the team of the fouled attacker to maintain a credible attack on goal. If that attack does not continue as a result of subsequent events (ball leaving the field in favor of the opposing team, another foul which requires reopening the analysis, etc.), the referee must return to the original offense, unless the subsequent foul involves a greater penalty. This includes the circumstance where the subsequent offense involves a penalty kick restart.

2.Continuing fouls other than holding: An offense which involves continuous contact (such as charging or pushing) that starts in one place and continues into another place where the consequences of stopping play would be a different restart, should be decided on the basis of which place involved the greater penalty (inside/outside the penalty area is decided in favor of inside the penalty area, inside/outside the field is decided in favor of inside the field).

3. Use of “fouls in motion”: If contact with an opponent occurs outside the penalty area but the consequences of the contact which would enable the referee to conclusively determine that the contact was an offense cannot be seen until the opponent is inside the penalty area, the location of the offense must bet set at where the original contact occurred. Likewise, contact occurring inside the field whose consequences do not become apparent until the opponent is outside the field must result in a decision to restart inside the field where the original contact occurred. These decisions (where the original contact occurred and where the consequences occurred) are based solely on the opinion of the referee.

A position paper, issued in April 2007 and still valid (and on the USSF website), illustrates “fouls in motion.”

Subject: When Fouls Continue!
Date: April 30, 2007

Prompted by several recent situations in professional league play, a discussion has developed regarding the proper action to take when a foul continues over a distance on the field. Many fouls occur with the participants in motion, both the player committing the foul and the opponent being fouled, and it is not unusual for the offense to end far away from where the initial contact occurred.

Usually, the only problem this creates for the referee is the need to decide the proper location for the restart. Occasionally, however, an additional issue is created when the distance covered results in an entirely different area of the field becoming involved. A foul which starts outside the penalty area, for example, might continue into and finally end inside the offending player’s penalty area. Or a foul might start inside the field but, due to momentum, end off the field. In these cases, the decision about where the foul occurred also affects what the correct restart must be.

In general, the referee should determine the location of the foul based on what gives the greater benefit to the player who was fouled. FIFA has specifically endorsed this principle in one of its “Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game,“ which states that a penalty kick is the correct restart if a player begins holding an opponent outside the player’s penalty area and continues this action inside his penalty area.