Persistent infringement in soccer is an offense that occurs when a player commits multiple, repeated fouls, or when several fouls are committed by several different players against a single opponent. The persistent infringement offense exists to discourage players and teams from degrading the quality of the game by repeatedly breaking the rules.
Persistent infringement is a cautionable offense in soccer that occurs when a player repeatedly commits fouls or other infractions throughout the course of a match. Persistent infringement can also occur when multiple infractions are committed against a single opponent by several different players on the same team.
The rule is designed to give referees a tool to punish players who diminish the integrity and pace of the game through repeated minor fouls. It is also designed to discourage players and teams from continuing to commit fouls after one has already occurred and to discourage targeting a single player by committing repeated fouls against them.
Persistent infringement is an offense that is rarely called by referees, with many more instances occurring than those that are actually cautioned as offenses. The rule can be difficult to enforce, as it requires referees to mentally keep track of the number and frequency of fouls committed by and against each player. Calling a player or team for this offense requires a subjective judgment by the referee. There is no minimum number of fouls that must be committed to qualify as persistent infringement.
The result of a persistent infringement offense being called is the offender being cautioned and shown a yellow card. If a player is cautioned twice in a match, they typically will be shown a red card and ejected from the remainder of the game. The result of persistent infringement is the same in both amateur and professional leagues, according to the IFAB Laws of the Game.
When persistent infringement is called, a referee will first blow their whistle to stop play and signal that a foul has occurred. Next, they will signal for either an indirect free kick, a direct free kick, or a penalty kick, depending on the type of foul. The referee will next indicate the location of the foul. Finally, the referee will walk over to the offending player, pull the yellow card out of their pocket, and show it to the offender.
- A player commits a charging foul, a pushing foul, and an impeding progress foul. All three fouls occur within a ten-minute span.
- A player commits four fouls, all of them resulting in free kicks. The referee gives the player a verbal warning, but then that player commits another foul before the end of the play.
- A single player has a striking foul, a holding foul, and a tackling foul committed against them. These three fouls are all committed by different opponents.