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Soccer Advantage Rule Explained

The Soccer advantage rule can be a bit confusing. However, it is a very easy rule to comprehend.

The soccer advantage rule was created to prevent the interference of an offensive play. If the defense is outmatched during an offensive build-up, they will try to foul in an attempt to slow down or stop the play. When this happens, the referee applies the advantage rule by allowing the play to continue.

To learn more about the advantage rule in soccer continue reading.

How Long Does an Advantage Last in Soccer?

If a foul is committed during an offensive build-up play, the referee will apply the advantage rule for several seconds so that he/she doesn’t interfere with the offensive build-up play.

Here is an example; an offensive player gets fouled as he is passing the ball to a teammate. The referee notices that the defense is outmatched and the offense has a possible goal-scoring play in development. He/She signals for the advantage rule. However, as the pass gets near the offensive teammate, a defender makes an interception and begins to dribble the ball. At this point, the referee would stop the play and go back to the spot of the original foul. Once there, he/she would award the offense a free kick from the earlier foul.

If however, the original pass gets to the intended receiver and that offensive player dribbles the ball toward the goal; the offense is in a great position to score, therefore the advantage rule is applied and the original foul is waived.

How a Referee Signals the Soccer Advantage Rule

Upon witnessing a foul during an offensive build-up play, the referee should swing both arms up to about a 45-degree angle when giving an advantage. Some referees also yell “Play On!” while making the arm signal. This is how the referee signals to the players, coaches, and fans that the foul was observed but the advantage rule has taken effect. As he/she swings both arms up, the referee continues running down the field along with the offensive players.

Can a Referee Issue a Yellow Card After Giving an Advantage?

Absolutely! If the referee observes a foul that is worthy of a yellow card, he/she will return to the player after the play is done and issue the card. This is a very common event that occurs in close games. Defensive players commit hard fouls when outmatched because they prefer to receive a yellow card than to allow the offensive team to score a goal.


The purpose of the soccer advantage rule is to prevent the stoppage of play during a possible goal-scoring offensive build-up play. The referee has the responsibility to NOT call a foul if it will hurt the non-offending team.

Usually, the referee will apply the advantage rule for several seconds to allow the offensive play to further develop. Furthermore, the referee can always issue a yellow card after giving the advantage if the foul warranted one. The referee signals the advantage rule by swinging his/her arms up at a 45-degree angle.

You should now have a better understanding of the soccer advantage rule so when you watch your next match you’ll be in tune with the game.