Referee plays advantage perfectly

The referee plays advantage perfectly when you let the non-offending team build up an attack. But where do you apply the advantage? In this blog post you’ll see video examples, plus criteria to keep in mind when giving advantage.

Because of a great example in the last UCL round, I thought about writing this blog story. Have a look at the video below.

Foul in counter-attack by Ajax

Referee Carlos del Cerro Grande plays the advantage in the clip above. Dybala from Juventus is on the left wing. In the middle Ajax player Ekkelenkamp clearly pulls Ronaldo back, because he wants to stop him moving forward.

As pointed out the player on the wing has a lot of space in front of him, which gives the referee a good reason for play to continue. Good to notice how closely the Spanish referee follows play after a counter-attack.

Below you’ll find all the criteria to keep in mind.

Refreee plays advantage

Referee plays advantage: the LOTG

The Laws of the Game are clear on this subject.  “The referee allows play to continue when an offence occurs and the non-offending team will benefit from the advantage.”

But where does the caution come in? “If the referee plays the advantage for an offence for which a caution / send off would have been issued had play been stopped, this caution / send off must be issued when the ball is next out of play, except for the denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity when the player is cautioned for unsporting behaviour.”

In this case Carlos del Cerro Grande whistles when the ball goes out of play, because players have to wait. He signals the pulling and shows Ekkelenkamp a yellow card.

Carlos del Cerro Grande

When not to apply advantage

“Advantage should not be applied in situations involving serious foul play,
violent conduct or a second cautionable offence unless there is a clear
opportunity to score a goal. The referee must send off the player when the ball is next out of play but if the player plays the ball or hallenges/interferes with an opponent, the referee will stop play, send off the player and restart with an indirect free kick, unless the player committed a more serious offence.

Things to consider when you play advantage

The referee may play advantage whenever an offence occurs but should
consider the following in deciding whether to apply the advantage or stop play:

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

Examples of good advantages

The Laws of the Game have changed on advantages and stopping a promising attack. If the foul is just SPA, then you don’t show a card when applying advantage. In this case above you’d show a card for unsporting behaviour, but what if there’s a reckless foul? Check out this great decision by Deniz Aytekin (with clip).

Swedish referee Victor has published a few video’s on his YouTube channel, which you’ll find below. For example this one, where he gives advantage on the attacking half of the field of play.

Advantage on the middle third of the field of play. What you notice:

Advantage on the middle third of the field of play. This is where you need to be careful if there’s a chance for a promising attack. If you look at the clip you’ll notice that the AR even flags for the foul. The advantage works perfectly here, but always ask yourself where play is going.

Your tips and examples

Do you have any tips or examples from top referees or your own games? Share them with me via

Two separate cautionable offences

Two separate cautionable offences in close proximity. It has never happened to me that I have to show a player two yellow cars plus a red card within seconds. How about you?

The only situation I remember is with Turkish referee Cüneyt Çakır, but that is a while ago. During the Uefa Champions League game between Ajax and Real in 2018-2019 there is a similar one with referee Felix Brych. Real Madrid player Nacho has the “honour” of receiving two yellows in one minute. One season later: Brych experienced a similar situation again in the game between Napoli vs Barcelona.

Have a look at both videos and keep in mind: how does the referee handle it? Below I’ll share my take-aways from this including an explanation about the laws that apply.

The initial clip of the match in 2019-2020 has been deleted, so this is a different version. The quality is a bit worse, but it’s clear what happens.

Belown the video of the game where Nacho receives two cards.

Recognize situations yourself

I always ask you to look at the referee, because it’s very important for you to learn yourself. You can read tips below, but it’s always important you recognize situations yourself as well.

Two cautionable offences: Brych cards Nacho

LOTG about two separate cautionable offences

The Laws of the Game are very clear on this. “Where two separate cautionable offences are committed (even in close proximity), they should result in two cautions.” IFAB also has provided us with an example. “If a player enters the field of play without the required permission and commits a reckless tackle or stops a promising attack with a foul/handball, etc.”

You get it, right?

The Nacho situation

Referee Felix Brych officiates the game between Real Madrid and Ajax in the UCL quarter finals. There is a lot of tension, because Ajax is in the lead in Bernabeu.

Tip 1: Be alert when players lose a ball

The clip starts with a cross to the left corner. You might think, why there, but there is a reason I show this long clip. You’ll see Nacho is trying to pass a defender and fails. He thinks it is a foul, but the German referee signals that play continues.

As a referee you should be alert now. That is when he wants to win the ball back and will put some extra effort in.


But not always in the right way.

Game management with fouls

Nacho is sprinting back to his own half and is too late with his tackle. He is not endangering his opponent’s safety in my opinion, but the yellow is correct. You need to show these yellows. These are not calls that decide a game in terms of a goal, but are key in terms of game management.

Tackle by Nacho on defender

Tip: Go to the situation

With these tackles, make sure you’re present. Move closer, as Brych does, because fouled players might get frustrated. Here the Ajax defender stays calm and Nacho walks off.

All fine then. But unfortunately for Nacho Ajax player Ziyech is there. We can’t hear what they say, but it’s clear that he stops Nacho and probably says something about that tackle. And then Nacho reacts and pushes Ziyech away.

What would you have done in this second situation normally?

  • No cards
  • Show both players players a yellow
  • Show only Nacho a yellow

Does it make a difference for you if someone is about to receive another yellow as well?

Red card by Felix Brych

Showing the cards

Felix Brych immediately points at Nacho as it was obvious for him that he was the one who caused trouble there.

When Brych shows the first yellow card Nacho turns, so he misses the second yellow card. Amongst tv presenters there was also some confusion. Some even mention that VAR is saying something to the ref. That is not correct.

Tip 3: Communicate – also to the tv watchers

Consequently, Brych shows the cards again and also communicates the reasons. The first one was for the tackle, the second for the push. You can tell it to players, but the whole world is watching on tv.

So communicate to the world. Good job there.

My takes on this situation. How would you handle this?

Brych communicates push to others

Other situations: what’s your call in the Milner clip?

what’s your call in the Milner clip?

Cakir clip when he sends of Chris Baird

Foul before offside offence (a case study)

Referee Anthony Taylor spots foul before offside offence, but is he correct to award a penalty kick? In this case study you’ll learn what to do.

Because it’s good to think first, try to ask the following question first. What do the Laws of the Game say about fouls and offside situations?

Offside before the foul

Offside position or not

The first question: is Kane in offside position?

A player is in an offside position if:

  • any part of the head, body or feet is in the opponents’ half (excluding the halfway line) and
  • any part of the head, body or feet is nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent

Because arms and hands of players are not considered, we should look at Kane’s head. If you look at that on the image, you can see Kane is in offside position.

But that is not all. Always keep in mind: “It is not an offence to be in an offside position.”

The moment of the foul

At the moment the ball is still high in the air, Kane is amending is position to head it towards the goal. But it’s Mustafi who bumps into Kane’s back and this push fouls Kane. The Tottenham striker is unable to play the ball.

Foul before offside offence

The Laws of the Game explain three rare scenario’s for players standing in offside positions:

  • when a defender fouls an attacker when already playing the ball
  • players are standing in he way of a defender
  • when a defender fouls an attacker before playing the ball

The latter is important here. The Laws of the Game say: “a player in an offside position is moving towards the ball with the intention of playing the ball and is fouled before playing or attempting to play the ball, or challenging an opponent for the ball, the foul is penalised as it has occurred before the offside offence.”

Yes, Kane is moving towards teh ball, but there is no attempt to play the ball. He is also not challenging the defender in front of him. It’s the defender (Mustafi, 20) behind him who fouls him. So the foul is penalised. Correct penalty kick decision.

Below you’ll see the referee’s view and a video.

Anthony Taylor sees the push clearly

There’s also lots of discussion on Twitter whether Kane was challenging Koscielny for the ball or not. Interesting to check for yourself as well.

Former EPL referee Mark Halsey  wrote a good piece on this as well. As it’s not clear for anyone – even top officials disagree – how to interpret this, how should refs at all levels? Check out the article: “Kane penalty shows offside is a mess”

Video of the incident

A video of the incident where you see a foul before the offside offence.

Kepa vs Sarri: when a player refuses to leave

Kepa vs Sarri: case study when a player refuses to leave. I always thought this situation was reserved for my weekly Laws of the Game Quizzes, but it really happened in the Carabao Cup.

How do you deal with this situation as a refreee?

When a player refuses to leave

A unique story in pics and a video, explained by the Laws of the Game. Because Kepa, the Chelsea goalkeeper, was injured, his coach wants to replace him. 4th official Paul Tierney puts the board in the air with number one, but Kepa remains on the field of play.

Referee Jon Moss takes a good approach, because he goes to the player quickly. Also team-mate David Luiz joins him, but Kepa is not going out.  Then it felt like comedy capers …

When a player refuses to leave - Jon Moss talks with Kepa

Manager Sarri gets mad

Chelsea manager Sarri is mad. He wants his goal keeper to come off, but what is actually in the LOTG? “If a player who is to be replaced refuses to leave, play continues.”

Jon Moss talks with the manager, his assistant and the 4th official and he explains the situation.

Jon Moss talking with manager Sarri

As a referee, you have no right to force a substitution here. All you can do is continue the game.

Sarri gets mad, and seems to walk away from the field of play. He comes back, but is not happy at all.

In the meantime Willy Cabbalero is waiting, like his nose his bleeding.

The person behind Paul Tierney even brings a second substitution board, as it might be needed for additional time.

But what if Jon Moss blows the final whistle? Would you allow the substitution to take place?

Willy Caballero waiting for the substitute

Substitution after the final whistle

What was your answer to the question above the picture?

This is what the Laws of the Game say. “A player other than the goalkeeper who is unable to continue may not be replaced.”

Although Kepa thinks he is not injured, I’d allow the substitution after the final whistle. That is also what Sarri and his assistant manager checked with the 4th official. But in this case Chelsea did not use this option.

Video of the situation


VAR disallows goal in Champions League

VAR disallows goal in Champions League. A historical decision, but is it the right one? A case study from a refereeing point of view.

It’s a match situation in the game between Ajax and Real Madrid. The referee is Damir Skomina and the video referee is Szymon Marciniak. In the Uefa documentary Man in the middle Skomina says about VAR that referees have to forget their ego.

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Check out the highlights of the situation. Below you’ll find the explanation.

How VAR disallows goal in Champions League

Because it is so difficult in real-time, you need a VAR to check this moment.

De Ligt heads the ball towards the Real Madrid goal. At that moment Dusan Tadic and Nicolás Tagliafico are not in offside position yet, which means that they will not be punished for gaining advantage.

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is catching the ball, but is unable to clear it. Nicolás Tagliafico goes to the ball and heads now towards the goal. The moment of that header is key here, because that’s what gives us the right decision.

Dusan Tadic is in offside position at the moment of the header.

Insight into referee and VAR communication

 It’s a pleasure to watch the Uefa documentary Man in the middle. In that series you get an insight into the the communication between VAR Marciniak and referee Skomina. That helps us with the understanding of match situations.

Here is their communication:

VAR: I am checking possible offside. I am checking possible offside.

Then we see Skomina entering the referee review area. VAR says: “Look, when the goal is scored, the Ajax player is touching the goalkeeper. He’s in an offside position”. 

Referee Skomina: “Yes”.

VAR: “Now I show you in 50% speed, okay?

Skomina says it’s okay and then disallows the goal after watching the clip. He says he is happy with this help so he’ll not be the person on the front of the newspaper, because one team is out of the tournament. “VAR is really welcome to help us.”

How can someone be in active play?

How can someone be in active play when in offside position?

Option 1: by interfering with play by playing or touching a ball passed or touched by a team-mate.

In this case Dusan Tadic does not touch the ball.

Option 2:  interfering with an opponent.

But how can someone interfere with an opponent? By:

  • preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or
  • challenging an opponent for the ball or
  • clearly attempting to play a ball which is close when this action impacts on an opponent or
  • making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball

There is contact between Dusan Tadic and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, but is that enough? For me this action has an impact on the goalkeeper’s movements, which makes him unable to play the ball or go to the ball. For me he’s interfering with an opponent, which means the offside call is correct.

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VAR disallows goal in Champions League

Scoring directly from a corner kick

Scoring directly from a corner kick. Is that allowed? But does the referee need to whistle? An interesting case study with AZ player Oussama Idrissi.

Idrissi scoring directly from a cornere kick


The referee gives no signal to take the corner kick.

Whistle or not?

The Laws of the Game give advice on when you whistle as referee, but a referee does not require it in all situations.

Because the following restarts are clear, the referee does NOT need to whistle to restart play from:

  • most free kicks,
  • and a goal kick,
  • corner kick,
  • throw-in
  • or dropped ball

Idrissi can take this corner kick, because waiting for a whistle is not mandatory. The AZ goal is legal.

Corner kick procedure

Just a quick recap of the corner kick procedure. The requirements are that the ball:

  • must be placed in the corner area nearest to the point where the ball passed over the goal line
  • has to be stationary and is kicked by a player of the attacking team
  • is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves; it does not need to leave the corner area

There are two other requirements are that the corner flag remains at its place and oponents must remain at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the corner arc until the ball is in play.

That’s okay here. And can you score? “A goal may be scored directly from a corner kick, but only against the opposing

All boxes ticked. A wonderful goal that will go around the globe.

Video: scoring directly from a corner kick

Watch the video below where Idrissi is scoring directly from a corner kick. It is a great example, because it is a rare situation.

Score a goal from a throw-in (case study)

Can you score a goal from a throw-in? That was the biggest question this weekend in the Bundesliga game VfB Stuttgart vs Bremen. Goalkeeper Zieler is not alert when a team-mate throws him the ball. But did he touch it? And what if: how do you restart play as referee?

A great video example to learn from in this case study.

Own goal from throw-in

LOTG: can’t score a goal from a throw-in

The Laws of the Game are very clear on this. “A goal cannot be scored directly from a throw-in”.

Do you know the correct restarts when it happens? Think about this, you’ll get the answers below.

But first the reaction of the goalkeeper on the German Sky channel. “I was very surprised myself”, he admits. Zieler didn’t really take notice of what really happened, because he didn’t see this coming. “Unfortunately, I touched the ball slightly, otherwise the goal would not have counted anyway.” 

Despite this error, all went well for his team VfB Stuttgart. His team won with 2-1. 

Restart if nobody touches the ball

The correct answers for the restart are if nobody touches the ball after it has been thrown:

  • if the ball enters the opponents’ goal – a goal kick is awarded
  • if the ball enters the thrower’s goal – a corner kick is awarded

Match scenes from the incident