Black and White | Round 27

Welcome to the Round 27 edition of the PFRA’s Black and White. This week, we take a look at fouls that interfere with or stop a promising attack. These situations are often termed “tactical fouls” or “cynical fouls” to break up play. Each situation must be judged on its merits, and there are guidelines to assess whether or not a yellow card is required in these instances.

The Laws of the Game state that a yellow card must be issued for unsporting behaviour if: A player commits a foul which interferes with or stops a promising attack except where the referee awards a penalty kick for an offence which was an attempt to play the ball.

This edition of Black and White will only focus on fouls which occur outside the penalty area.

Importantly, a yellow card will only be shown if the promising attack is stopped or interfered with, by way of the referee awarding a free kick. If the referee plays advantage, then the promising attack has continued, and no yellow card will be shown (unless the offence was of a reckless nature).

In determining whether or not there is a promising attack, match officials will assess:

  • the location on the field where the foul occurred;

  • the space for attacking players to progress towards goal;

  • whether they are in possession of the ball or are likely to gain possession;

  • how many teammates are in attacking positions compared to the number of defenders;

  • the likelihood of an attacking play developing if the foul hadn’t been committed.

In the first situation above, Antonis (MV24) holds Mierzejewski (SFC11), who had possession of the ball moving towards goal, with teammates in advanced positions, and an attacking play was likely if the foul not been committed. Play was stopped to award a free kick for holding, therefore a yellow card was shown to Antonis for stopping a promising attack.

In the second situation, Elsey (AU23) holds Cejudo (WSW10), who was in possession of the ball moving towards goal, with teammates and space ahead to develop a promising attack in the next phase of play. The referee plays advantage and allows the promising attack to continue, and does not stop play. The promising attack in this instance has not been stopped, and WSW were able to complete an attacking move, therefore no yellow card was shown to Elsey.

Black and White message: If the referee stops play to award a free kick, and the foul has stopped a promising attack, a yellow card will be issued. If advantage is played, and the promising attack continues, no yellow card will be issued.

To read more on the Laws of the Game, visit

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