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Question Number: 28274

Law 9 - The Ball in and out of Play 3/23/2014

RE: Competitive Adult

G. Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

This question is a follow up to question 28073

At one of our parks, trees overhang one sideline¦ about 30 feet above the field.

If a ball hits a branch, what is the restart? Throw-in or IDFK?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
The 'safest' decision is a dropped ball in all circumstances. The referee is entitled under Law 5 to stop the game for outside interference.
One could also treat it as a pre existing condition and allow play to continue. It can be important that both teams are aware of this. That though is fraught with problems as there is an element of luck / rub of the green which means the ball can fall kindly / unkindly to one team.
I recall a field that had a very high electricity line crossing above one half. In one particular game on a goal kick the ball hit the line and it dropped to a forward who was left alone when the defence pushed out. He could not believe his luck. Now IMO it would have been unfair to allow play to continue and I stopped play to restart with a dropped ball. There was little complaint from the attacking team and the ball was actually kicked back to the GK on the restart for a punt. Dealing with a goal being scored here would have been difficult IMO. It can lead to heated arguments and it may then require the scoring team to decide what it wants to do about the complaints. If it is not dealt with it can lead to match control problems maybe even cautions or dismissals.

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Answer provided by Referee

This would be a drop ball for outside interference. Given that it's an outdoor sport I don't think pre-existing conditions above the field of play are really in line with the spirit of the game (though you could make the argument).

You can't award a throw-in when the ball hasn't left the field, and you can't award an IFK when there is no IFK offence that covers this scenario; you're risking having the match replayed if a goal was scored after an IFK.

Incidentally, Futsal allowed the ball to be brought to the side for a kick-in when it hits the roof, but that's because the laws specifically allow it. Soccer doesn't have such a law.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The referee should determine if there is a local 'grounds' rule for the tree. Absent a local rule, a tree overhanging the touchline can generally be treated as a natural part of the field, like a rock/twig/sprinkler head. Play can continue if the ball hits the branch.

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