Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 35437

Law 5 - The Referee 4/7/2024

Petr of Prague, Czech Republic Czech Republic asks...


one question please.

Can a player decline advantage after a foul? (for example by stopping movement)

Or is it solely a referee's decision?

Thank you very much!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Petr
This has been asked in the past.

Essentially if advantage is not realised the game is stopped and restarted with the original offence. Generally it is not realised because the advantage opportunity did not truly exist with the ball lost immediately or an immediate second challenge so the referee goes back to the free kick fairly quickly.

So in essence when a player who does not continue after being fouled it is going to be difficult to not call the original foul.

So technically it is the referees call to decide if the free kick is a better decision than advantage not a player decision yet it might not work out that way.
I recall on another forum where this was asked. A referee recounted how a fouled player stopped in an advantage situation and picked up the ball saying **We will have the free kick** . The referee said he was somewhat taken aback yet gave the fouled player the free kick rather than the deliberate handling against him.
My take on it is that its a very rare situation as players tend to want to go on when they are in possession of the ball and moving forward with the shout of Advantage.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Petr,
It is occasionally an issue depending on the time frame and how quickly the player reacted.
A referee who has chosen to apply advantage by signalling and calling it out, is of the mind set that it, "MIGHT?", evolve into a better opportunity for the team to continue the
attack than what the freekick opportunity might hold.

By calling out, "ADVANTAGE!", and signaling with the arm(s), that action, SHOULD, reassure the player who was fouled and those watching , the incident WAS seen, and for all intents and purposes, it is a challenge to the player and the team, to use this moment to CONTINUE their attack or shut down!

Your body language example is quite astute, as it is indicating to the officials, "NO!, we rather you give us that free kick!" For the most part, an attentive proactive referee will catch the inference and blow the whistle.

As a method of game management, a foul that must be acknowledged by more than a verbal "Cut that out!", because it was neither trifling or doubtful or one the demands an immediate stoppage due to its violent or excessive nature as a send off event and or a red card is about to be shown. In such cases, where a send off red is the incident that unfolded, we might delay a whistle if the ball was rolling into the goal, but it unwise to allow an "advantage" unless an immediate goal was the likely result.

Advantage as a tool, does not GUARANTEE the offended team score, it simply operates on the premise that an opportunity to do so or continue an attack is a better outcome than stopping for a free kick. In cases where a CARD (yellow for USB or a reckless tackle) WILL be forthcoming, we have until the next restart of play to do so.
It is wise to add that to the advantage call in some form, as both a shout out to your ARs, "Hey watch Number so and so he is in the book!" to isolate and ensure you do not forget as well as let the player fouled and the culprit know he isn't getting away with it!

My personal approach to advantage is to see the foul, then determine if I MUST call it immediately to head off issues, or if I can wait a bit to see a further outcome that is better than the upcoming free kick. I signal ADVANTAGE! very loud verbally and display the arm(s) A single arm is ok, pointed down palm up, fingers wide. You control the whistle with the other.

If there is a caution or card involved, I will say something like (#15 blue you are in the book see you soon!) It again adds to the scope of information on the advantage call by letting those know we not only saw a foul we see it as reckless or USB, further punishment is due so do NOT do anything retaliatory as I have dealt with it!

Once I signal the advantage is being evaluated in those (few seconds) I watch for a provable outcome to where I feel satisfied it was a good decision and then cry out "PLAY ON!" It sends the message, I am happy, play will not be stopped, we will NOT be awarding the free kick, and, if there is a card outstanding, we will get to it at the next natural stoppage!

Your question deals within the few seconds of evaluation whether if ego plays a part and it irritates the referee the player unwisely disregarded what he thought and gave up! It could be he reached down to grab the ball for a DFK restart of a deliberate handling thinking, give me my free kick for that thing a few seconds ago ,even if a clear path to the opposition goal was there for the taking. It deals with the retaliatory elbow thrown as the clinging defender is there tugging or tight to the body and the player due a free kick instead chooses to give it up and retaliate. Depending on certain circumstances & the timing that elbow could be a new foul or misconduct and we still reward the 1st foul.

What is perceived and the reality of the actions we should try to remember it is the players' game and their decisions on how they wish to play it are theirs, even if we shake our heads and go, seriously? That said, if I already called out, Play on!, as the song says, Its too late baby! It is much too late!

While it is a consideration for a referee, when thinking of advantage as reasonable, in youth especially, if the skill sets of players is sufficient, I have had coaches request me to NOT apply advantage, as they often had a thunder kicker or cute set plays & could score from anywhere. They had less faith than in letting the skill of players shine through and thought more of the power of a high kick keepers can not react to well when younger . Plus the screams of the touchline fanatics could at times cause kids to quit expecting a whistle for a probable foul rather than actually PLAYING the whistle!


Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 35437
Read other Q & A regarding Law 5 - The Referee

The following questions were asked as a follow up to the above question...

See Question: 35440

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The free opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members. While there is no charge for asking the questions, donation to maintain the site are welcomed! <>