Overhanging Branch - Restart ...

Discussion in 'Referee' started by Footballer, Jun 30, 2005.

  1. Footballer

    Footballer New Member

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    I want to ask how fellow referees deal with a ball striking a overhanging branch.

    I've done games where referees tell me that since the branch is part of the field, play should continue. Then others tell me you should blow the whistle to stop the match and restart with a drop ball. Yet some others say that if the ball was in the process of going out of bounds anyway, it should be a throw-in.

    Please help. I just want to do the restart right.


  2. Wreave

    Wreave New Member

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    USSF ATR deals with this question:

    (c) Pre-existing conditions
    These are things on or above the field which are not described in Law 1 but are deemed safe and not generally subject to movement. These include trees overhanging the field, wires running above the field, and covers on sprinkling or draining systems. They do not affect one team more adversely than the other and are considered to be a part of the field. If the ball leaves the field after contact with any item considered under the local ground rules of the field to be a pre-existing condition, the restart is in
    accordance with the Law, based on which team last played the ball. (Check with the competition for any local ground rules.)

    further:
    Note: The difference between non-regulation appurtenances and pre-existing conditions is that, if the ball makes contact with something like uprights or crossbar superstructure, it is ruled out of play even if the contact results in the ball remaining on the field. Where there is a pre-existing condition (such as an overhanging tree limb), the ball remains in play even if there is contact, as long as the ball itself
    remains on the field. Referees must be fully aware of and enforce any rules of the competition authority or field owner regarding non-regulation appurtenances.
    Referees should note all deviations from Law 1 during the pregame inspection of the field, include them specifically in their pregame conference and, where advisable, inform the teams as to how they will be handled in accordance with this guidance.

    ------

    So, if the ball hits the branch and stays in play, play on. If the ball hits the branch and goes out of play, restart with throw-in/goal kick/corner kick as appropriate.

    The point about addressing this in pregame with teams is a good one. Set expectations in advance so no one whines later.
  3. blech

    blech Member+

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  4. Chubbywubby

    Chubbywubby Member

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    Several years ago a local summer league put some soccer pitches on a field built for two American football gridirons, laying out the pitches orthogonally (crosswise). The result was four 80x50 pitches (for an adult league!) with the football goalposts literally right on some of the touch lines. This occasioned considerable debate all summer as to how to deal with this. Some of us considered them to be non-regulation appurtenances, others considered them to be pre-existing conditions since they were not located where such things are normally expected to be (on the goal lines) and the crossbar and uprights hung over the field of play. Each referee for each match told his/her crew how to handle it, but no consensus was ever reached.

    And as an AR, you definitely had to be looking where you were going before you started to sprint down the line! ;)


  5. Wreave

    Wreave New Member

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    Interesting - so many people, especially the assessors, seemed to not get it right. It's very simple, right there in the ATR. If the ball stays on the field, it's in play. If it leaves the field, it's out of play with restart according to how it went out. Trees overhanging the field are NOT an outside agent.
  6. NJ Ref

    NJ Ref New Member

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    I’m confused. You’re telling me that trees and other appurtenances (other than pointy ball goals), are considered part of the field. So, in one example of an overhanging tree over the goal, if a ball, which otherwise would clearly go in touch hits the tree and is deflected into the goal, we have a goal? I don’t know about you, but I’d like to leave the field alive. Accordingly, I’d be using Law 18 and call either a corner or goal kick…actually avoiding “the letter of the law” of performing a drop ball for hitting an outside agent. I can’t find in Law 1 where trees are a part of the field and therefore, in my miniscule mind, I would consider them an outside agent.

    Story time: I actually did a final were a telephone pole was just on the field (along the touchline). One team had traveled from out-of-state for four hours to get to the field. If I refused to do the game, I would no longer get assignments. So I put cones around the pole about three yards away and instructed bother teams that a ball would be consider in touch in that area and, if congested play was close to, and potentially directed toward the pole, play would be stopped. If what has been said is true, I guess I should have just done nothing and consider it a part of the field. Let’s get real!
  7. Statesman

    Statesman New Member

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    Actually NJ Ref, in your case I personally wouldn't referee the match no matter what the consequences. A pole on the field is a bit different than some overhanging branches or wires. That is a very dangerous scenario and not one I'd stick my neck out to officiate. If the assignor had an issue I'd simply write a report to the SRA and have his mind changed :)
  8. refmike

    refmike New Member

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    A restatement just for consistancy:

    An outside agent is something the enters the field without referees permission and interferrs with the game. An overhanging branch is NOT an outside agent.

    A goal post extension is not part of the field like a goalpost or corner flag but is on the edge of the field and prevents a ball from leaving the field. Consider the ball to have left the field.

    An overhanging branch that is totally within the field is a pre-existing condition which the referee accepts when starting the game. If the ball hits it then play continues.

    If the tree is on the edge of the field and you could honestly say it stopped the ball from going out, then you could consider the ball to have left the field.

    Local league rules can override this (I know of one instance where they do).
    Can it be any simpler or clearer?
  9. Wreave

    Wreave New Member

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    "If what has been said is true"... look it up in the Advice to Referees. I copied the text above right out of the ATR. I'm not telling you myself, I'm just regurgitating USSF.

    On your hypothetical tree overhanging the goal, I assume you're visualizing it as being high enough off the field so as not to be dangerous, but that a ball boomed over the goal might contact the branches and drop back onto the field prior to crossing the goal line (for a goal kick). In the same way that a hard shot which would otherwise have gone out for a goal kick, which rebounds off the back of a poorly-positioned referee and goes into the goal is in fact a goal, so would this ball off the tree. However, in real life you might address that in pregame with the teams, and apply law 18 to call a goal kick instead.

    However, the pole on the field is NOT the same issue. An overhanging branch on the field is a preexisting condition. A pole on the field is a dangerous condition. Your cone solution sounds like a workable one in the real world, especially if well-addressed in pregame. Another alternative might have been to reline the field to make that pole in touch rather than in play.
  10. BC_Ref

    BC_Ref New Member

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    In my hometown (Ottawa), we had various fields with weird and wonderful things on them - uprights for football, and some field had overhanging trees. The consensus (tradition if you would) was that the ball was dead (for tree branches) and out of play for pointy ball uprights. I'm surprised that the local leagues don't have some understanding of what should be done (make a decision - is the ball live, dead, or out of play for a corner/goal kick).
  11. Crowdie

    Crowdie New Member

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    The issue here is the definition of "outside agent". Law 1 defines what should be on a football pitch: markings, goals, corner flags, etc. Add to that the players and the officials and you have the what should be on a football pitch. Nowhere in Law 1 does it specify an overhanging tree as part of the field of play.

    Obviously, in the US you follow the ATR, but certainly in some countries an overhanging tree would be defined as an "outside agent" and you would stop the game and award a dropped ball. This would explain why the original poster is hearing different answers to his question about the overhanging tree.
  12. blueboy

    blueboy Member

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    It is extremely simple - if a ball strikes a branch, but does not leave the field of play, it is still in play.

    If the branch delflects the ball into the goal, award the goal.

    However, you MUST CLEARLY TELL both teams before the game that if the ball hits a branch, but does not go out of play, the ball is still in play. Point out each of the trees, if there are more than one, that the ball may strike. ALSO, ALWAYS REMIND THEM to play the WHISTLE - no whistle, the ball is still in play.
  13. FLRef

    FLRef Member

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    Figured I'd revive this thread since something similar happened to me yesterday...

    Was doing a high school game and the ball hit an overhanging tree but stayed in the field of play. I had the affected sideline on a 3 man crew for that game (most games use 2)--I initially signaled/yelled to play on (coaches also thought play should continue, not that it necessarily means anything), but the center blew the whistle and did a drop ball instead. Can't find anything definitive in the NFHS rules, although this link interprets that it should be determined locally per NFHS rules (pg 10, rule 9): http://www.montanaref.org/useruploads/docs/20128201055310.2012_soccer_guide_nisoa.pdf. Guess we could've gone either way on that one.
    dadman repped this.
  14. Bubba Atlanta

    Bubba Atlanta Member+

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    Amazing thread revival award ... :thumbsup:

    And under FIFA rules at least, if you blow the whistle for an overhanging branch strike, then the restart is in fact a dropped ball (for an inadvertent whistle). So, probably no harm done in this case ... carry on.
  15. socal lurker

    socal lurker Member+

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    As long as the thread is revived (and I think we had one or two on the same topic since then, but . . .) any time there is something like on the field it is critical to discuss pre-game amongst the ref team. And highly advisable to tell both teams so there are no surprises at a key moment in the game . . .
  16. SA14mars

    SA14mars Member

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    Note that NFHS and FIFA differ on parts of this subject now whereas they did not when this was originally posted in 2005. Per NFHS rules, an overhanging goal post (pointy ball kind) is now consider out of play. I am not aware of any other differences or changes since the original discussion took place.

    Also, under NFHS I believe the correct procedure for an inadvertent whistle is to now award an IDK to the team in clear possession at the time of the IW. If no clear possession, then dropped ball (another NFHS difference).
  17. socal lurker

    socal lurker Member+

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    This is not differrent from the ATR -- see 1.8(b). The ATR treats american football goals differently from trees.
  18. Bubba Atlanta

    Bubba Atlanta Member+

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    Where is that (about the overhanging goalpost) in the NFHS rules? I'm having trouble locating it. (I'm also having trouble finding anything in the rules about outside agents/interference, so I'm probably just having one of those can't-find-the-mayo-in-the-refrigerator episodes.)

    Hard to imagine anyone being "in clear possession" of a ball rebounding off the goal post or an overhanging branch.

    And drop ball (yet another NFHS difference). ;)
  19. fairplayforlife

    fairplayforlife Member

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    I've often wondered about their treatment of american football uprights, typically you see mention of the uprights that are part of the soccer goals and not the free standing ones. Are they treated the same, i.e. out of play?

    I ask because there is a high school field near me where the free standing football uprights extend directly over the goal and goal line with about 2 ft vertical separation. As a general rule we treat them as out of play but I often wonder if this is technically correct. Any thoughts?
  20. Bubba Atlanta

    Bubba Atlanta Member+

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    Correct under USSF; I can't find it under NFHS, but I know we call it the same way in HS games.
  21. Alberto

    Alberto Member+

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    This is where the ATR is utterly lacking in common sense. Sorry, but a tree limb or phone or high tension wire is not expected to be so low or over the field of play that it should be an obstruction to the playing of the ball. If the element is so low that a ball strikes it, then it should be a drop ball. It makes sense if the obstruction is to the boundaries of the field of play that if said obstruction was not present and the ball wholly left the field of play that we should restart play with the appropriate restart corner kick, throw in, goal kick. If the ball deflects off an object into the goal I'm not calling it a goal.
  22. socal lurker

    socal lurker Member+

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    In fairness to the ATR, in notes "If the ball leaves the field after contact with any item considered under the local ground rules of the field to be a pre-existing condition." I think the keep-playing concept makes complete sense for touchline overhangs (which is all I have personally seen on actual fields).

    I agree that where the overhang affects the goal itself that local ground rules should consider that treating them as outside agents or the same as a football goal post is likely more appropriate.

    But I also think the single most important thing is to make sure both teams know how they will be treated before the game starts so there is no confusion or surprises.
  23. Alberto

    Alberto Member+

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    I also wish that State Referee Administrators and others at the USSF state the truth. Don't say the ATR has been accepted by FIFA. It is a clarification, interrpetation and expansion on the laws written by the USSF, but nowhere have I ever seen a letter or memorandum from FIFA that states that it wholly supports the ATR. So USSF back up the assertion with a written document.

    Thank you.
  24. Chas (Psyatika)

    Chas (Psyatika) Member

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    Alberto, you're free to make that decision, as long as you address it with the coaches and your crew ahead of time. Not doing so could unnecessarily raise the temperature of the game when you suddenly call back a promising attack to give a drop ball (or better yet, miss a slight deflection and ALLOW a promising attack!).

    What i would tell the teams and crew:
    • If there are branches/wires overhanging near the middle of the field, i'm letting play continue if they are struck, as long the ball never actually leaves the field.
    • IF, however, it is obvious that the ball would have gone out (ball is blasted straight over the goal area, but kept in by a branch/wire), i'm giving the restart as if the ball had actually left. If i'm in doubt, i'll err on the side of stopping play.
    • The above caveat will only apply to specific trees/wires that i will identify now ("only that one tree right behind the north goal," for example). If i don't identify it at the start, then the second point does not apply to it, no matter what.
    This would allow pre-existing conditions to be in play in compliance with the ATR (meaning you only have to focus on the actual field lines), but also account for a common sense application to one specific tree or wire that could cause significant problems.

    If you're going to stop play for every bounce off a branch or wire, i'd worry about those moments where you may decide that the deflection was only slight (trifling?), or those moments where you don't actually see the deflection, and one team stops playing. Seems like an easy way to raise the temperature of the game, yet is so easily preventable by accepting these items as part of the field.
    usaref repped this.
  25. SA14mars

    SA14mars Member

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    Ah just found that in my newer copy of the ATR. Whoops!

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