Soccer Advantage

Soccer Advantage signal

Advantage in soccer is a rule that allows play to continue after a foul has been committed when the fouled team is still in possession of the ball. This prevents teams from being put at a disadvantage after they have been fouled. Read on to learn more about advantage in soccer and when it is applied.

When Does the Referee Apply Advantage?

Advantage is typically applied only for minor, cautionable offenses. This means play is allowed to continue even though a foul has been committed since the fouled team is still in possession of the ball. It will not be applied though in any situation involving serious foul play, violent conduct, or a second cautionable offense unless there is a clear opportunity to score a goal.

If the referee plays the advantage for an offense in which a caution or sending off would have been issued had play been stopped, those actions must be issued when the ball is next out of play. However, if the offense was denying the opposing team an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, the player is cautioned for unsporting behavior.

If a defender starts holding an attacker outside the penalty area and continues holding inside the penalty area, the referee must award a penalty kick.


If a foul that was committed was worthy of a yellow or red card was played on by advantage, the referee will issue the punishment at the next stoppage of play. If a referee fails to issue the yellow or red card at the next stoppage of play, it cannot be retroactively applied. This means if there is no card shown at the next stoppage of play, the foul was a simple warning that would’ve resulted in a free kick.

Signaling Advantage

When the referee observes a foul and decides to apply advantage, they will extend their arms in front of their body with their palms facing upward. This will let the players know that play will continue, despite a foul being committed on the play.