What is the Advantage Rule in Soccer? 

What is the Advantage Rule in Soccer? 

“Why aren’t they stopping that play?!” Enter the advantage rule in soccer.

What is the advantage rule in soccer? The advantage rule is a provision in soccer that allows the referee to let play continue after a foul has been committed if the team that was fouled is in a better position than they would be if the play had been stopped.

Another way to look at it is if a player is fouled but their team still has possession of the ball and is in a good position to score, the referee can choose to play the advantage and let the game continue.

This gives the offensive team an opportunity to capitalize on the situation and potentially score a goal.

However, if the team that was fouled loses possession of the ball, the referee can still go back and award a free kick, penalty, or a card if necessary.

Advantage Rule in Soccer

FIFA Advantage Rule

According to FIFA, the advantage rule is applied when “the referee allows play to continue when the team against which an offence has been committed will benefit from such an advantage and penalizes the original offence if the anticipated advantage does not ensue at that time or within a few seconds.”

The referee should consider the following circumstances in deciding whether to apply the advantage or stop play:

  • the severity of the offence: if the infringement warrants an expulsion, the referee must stop play and send off the player unless there is a subsequent opportunity to score a goal
  • the position where the offence was committed: the closer to the opponent’s goal, the more effective it can be the chances of an immediate, promising attack the atmosphere of the match

However, unless there is a clear advantage, it is recommended that the referee stops play and cautions the player immediately. If the caution is NOT issued at the next stoppage, it cannot be shown later.

Source: FIFA Laws of the Game

When is Advantage Rule Applied?

In summary, the advantage rule is typically applied in situations where a foul has been committed but the team that was fouled still has possession of the ball and is in a good attacking position.

For example, if a player is fouled over the halfway line but their team is still able to maintain possession and launch a counter-attack, the referee may choose to apply the advantage rule and let play continue.

How Advantage Rule is Signaled

advantage rule soccer

When the referee decides to apply the advantage rule, they will signal this by raising their arm forward and shouting “play on” or “advantage.”

The referee will then allow play to continue for a few seconds to see if the team that was fouled is able to take advantage of the situation.

Remember, the advantage rule is a discretionary rule, and it is up to the referee to determine when it should be applied.

Benefits of the Advantage Rule in Soccer

Faster Game Pace

When a foul occurs in soccer, the referee has the option to either stop play and award a free kick or allow play to continue if the team that was fouled has an advantage.

This advantage rule speeds up the game and keeps the flow of play going, allowing for more action and excitement.

If there were no ‘Advantage Rule’ then the opposition could foul intentionally just to stop an attacking team’s moment.

More Opportunities to Score

By allowing play to continue after a foul, the advantage rule provides more opportunities for the fouled team to score.

This is especially true when the team that was fouled has a fast break or a clear path to the goal.

Without the advantage rule, these opportunities would be lost and the game could become more defensive and stagnant.

As a result, the advantage rule makes the game more exciting and dynamic.

Fairness and Consistency

The advantage rule ensures fairness and consistency in the game.

It prevents the opposing team from benefiting from a foul and encourages players to play the game fairly.

Additionally, the advantage rule provides consistency in the way that fouls are called, as the referee has the discretion to determine whether or not to apply the rule.

This consistency helps to maintain the integrity of the game and ensures that all players are held to the same standards of soccer.

Disadvantages of Advantage Rule in Soccer

Subjectivity and Interpretation

The one downside is that the advantage rule is subjective and open to interpretation. This can lead to inconsistent calls by referees. And, some coaches won’t like the call either way.

What one referee considers an advantage may not be the same as another referee’s interpretation. This can lead to confusion and frustration among players, coaches, and fans.

Furthermore, the advantage rule can be difficult for referees to judge in real-time, especially when the situation is complex or the play is moving quickly.

Referees (especially at the youth level) may struggle to make a quick decision on whether to apply the advantage rule, leading to delayed or incorrect calls.

Final Thoughts on the Advantage Rule

I certainly think that there’s a place for the ‘Advantage Rule’ in soccer.

The rule allows referees to make quick decisions and keep the game flowing without subjecting a team to an unfair advantage.

By allowing play to continue when a foul has been committed, the advantage rule promotes a more exciting and dynamic style of play that rewards teams for their skill and creativity.

However, it is important for referees to use their judgment carefully and ensure that the advantage rule is applied fairly and consistently.

When used correctly, the advantage rule can help to create a fair and enjoyable game for players, parents, and fans.

Beau Bridges - Soccer Novo Hey 👋 I’m Beau. A proud Dad, former coach and soccer enthusiast. I continue to love the game of soccer today the same way I did when I was 7. I created soccernovo.com to share what I know about the game as well as provide a platform so other parents can learn more about youth soccer in the U.S.

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