I was officiating at a park which has trees which over hang the pitch, my question is, if the ball hits an over hanging branch and falls into the field of play (the ball was has not crossed the line), is it out or play on?
At my association (Sydney, Australia) the rule is play on as this is a fixed natural feature of the field.
In this instance everyone stopped and I called “play on”, at half time I had to explain my ruling and the general consensus was… “are you kidding, ref???”.
Cant find anything relating to this in the LOTG.
USSF answer (July 2, 2008):
The answer is the same here as in Sydney — play continues. Consider this excerpt from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” 2008 edition:
1.8 DEALING WITH APPURTENANCES TO THE FIELD AND OUTSIDE AGENTS
(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.)