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Question Number: 29790

Law 9 - The Ball in and out of Play 10/7/2015

RE: High School High School

Derek of Cary, IL USA asks...

The ball is booted into the air and hits an overhanging tree and is otherwise still on the field. Should we stop play since this 'outside agent' interfered with play? What would be the restart?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Derek,,
if the overhanging tree is considered as part of the playing field, it might just be play on. A tree to be so large and close though sounds like it could be dangerous? If there is a bylaw it likely states play on but if there is nothing on record discuss this prior to the start of the match. A drop ball can work if it must! Cheers

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

The 2014 issue of USSF's publication Advice to Referees (*) covers this:

1.6 Pre-Existing Conditions
Pre-existing conditions are things on, above, or overhanging the field which are neither dangerous nor movable and must be considered a part of the field. Examples include trees off the field whose branches overhang the field, wires running above the field, and covers on sprinkling or draining systems. Play does not stop merely because the ball makes contact with any pre-existing condition. If the ball leaves the field after contact with any item considered by the local rules of competition to be a pre-existing condition, the restart is in accordance with the Law, based on which team last played the ball.

* - Of course this has no standing in a high school game not played under the Laws of the Game. And may no longer be applicable in USSF-affiliated games, as they are no longer producing Advice, and we don't know if past versions still apply.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Derek
In a NFHS game I understand that there is no set rule and it is covered by a Local Ground rule which is discussed prior to game.
In a FIFA game such conditions CAN be considered pre existing and as they are natural are considered part of the field of play. I'm not sure that I would necessarily go with allowing play to continue
The 2006 WC in Germany had an incident in the match between England V Paraguay in the Commerzbank-Arena, where a goal kick from England goalkeeper Paul Robinson struck the video cube hanging in the middle of the pitch and bounced down into play. The Referee stopped play and restarted with a dropped ball.
Have a look at this video
Red Player has decided that the ball left the field of play and caught the ball for a goal kick. Referee and AR decided that the ball had NOT left the field of play and restarted with a penalty kick.
Personally I would have avoided this decision due to the *unfair* nature of it by informing both teams that the ball hitting the condition is a dropped ball restart due to outside interference.

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