MFL Official Rule Book

Section 1- General

1.1 Referees The MFL will do its best to ensure that each game will consist of at least two referees. It is at the discretion of the referees to assess penalties as deemed necessary (based on this rulebook). Referees will have the right to consult one another in the event of contradictory calls made by the two referees OR to ensure the correct call and application of the rulebook is made. All decisions by the referees are final.

1.2 Suspensions Any personal foul penalties, unsportsmanlike penalties, ejections and other offences deemed serious by the referees and/or commissioners will be reviewed in order to determine the appropriate consequence(s), if any. Suspensions are served in consecutive games and carry over from the regular season to the playoffs. All incidents occurring on field premises (i.e. building and parking area), and those occurring elsewhere but deemed to be a direct carryover from participation in MFL, are eligible for suspension. Commissioners reserve the right to implement disciplinary action (i.e. suspensions/stiffer penalties) on repeat offenders (of personal foul/conduct or unsportsmanlike violations).

1.3 Suspension Appeals Players who have been suspended can file an appeal to the commissioners, by submitting a written letter (via email) explaining reasons why the suspension should be shortened, along with any information the player deems important in regard to his situation. Appeals must be submitted within a period of 1 week after the suspension is issued. If there has been no appeal within that time frame, the suspension will be finalized, and therefore cannot be shortened. The commissioners will review the appeal and conclude the case within 5 days of the submission. There will be no further appeals following the conclusion of the suspension.

1.4 Rule Modifications If there is a nomination to add/remove/alter any rule in this rulebook at any time after the season has begun and before its completion, there will be a voting process which will involve the commissioner(s) and Captains. The vote for the implementation of the rule modification must have a support of 60% or greater.


Section 2- Gameplay

2.1 Setup of the field It is the responsibility of the Commissioners and the Captains of both teams to assist in the setup of the field (measurement of distances/placement of pylons).

2.2 – Officiating The MFL will do its best to ensure each game will have at least three officials—two referees, one timekeeper/scorekeeper. The referees will be in charge of calling penalties as necessary. Only the referees have the authority to make calls during a game. The timekeeper is in charge of starting/stopping the game clock as requested by the referees. The scorekeeper will be responsible for recording statistics.
2.2.1- Officiating Complaints During the game, ONLY the captain (or the player designated as interim captain in case of captain’s absence) is permitted to engage in discussions with the referees regarding officiating concerns. The referees must provide the captain(s) with a reasonable explanation of calls made/not made. Captains may NOT insult, demean, mock or abuse the referees at any time. If the referees deem this to be the case, a warning will be issued. If the behaviour persists, referees can call a penalty as per section 5.3. All players of a team must convey their officiating concerns to the captain. At no point can other players engage in an argument with the referees over officiating.

2.3 Number of Players Games will be played 6-on-6 (or 5-on-5). If a team does not have a full 6 (or 5) players, it may play with 5 (or 4, if 5-on-5) players. In the 6-on-6 format, a team can play with 4 players ONLY if agreed upon by the opposing captain. Teams will be given a grace period of 15 minutes to gather the minimum number of players; however, game time will be reduced.
2.3.1 Forfeiture Fine Any team that is unable to field the minimum number of players AND does not provide the league with 24 hours notice of such an inability will be subject to a fine of $40. The team will not be able to participate in future games until the fine is paid.
2.3.2 Player Dismissal A player who misses 3 (three) games without prior (and valid) notice will be deemed to have abandoned his team. Such a player can, at the discretion of the league organizers, be dismissed (expelled) from the current season AND may have his access to register for future seasons restricted. Such a player is NOT entitled to a refund from the league for either the games missed prior to, or post, dismissal.

2.4 Ball Placement Referees must place (spot) the ball on the ground before the start of each play, except under wet field conditions. Under wet field conditions, the QB may hold onto the ball, but must be motionless and say (audibly) some word (e.g. ‘Hut’, ‘Go’, ‘Hike’, etc) to initiate the play. Under normal field conditions, a play is deemed to have started once the ball has been lifted, not upon verbal declaration of a word.

2.5 Accepting/Declining Penalties The captain will have the option to accept or decline a penalty committed by the opposing team. The captain must inform the referee of his decision within 10 seconds of the call.

2.6 8 Steam-Boats The QB will have to the count of 7 steamboats (as determined by the referee) to freely run his play. The defensive team can decide to rush the QB AFTER the 7 steamboat count. The QB can only run past the line of scrimmage with the ball if the defensive player(s) crosses the line of scrimmage.

2.7 End of Game Penalty A game or half may not end with a defensive penalty, even if time has expired. The offense will receive an extra down, with the game/half coming to an end at the conclusion of this additional play.

2.8 Substitutions Following a scoring drive, the defensive team must be given an opportunity to substitute its players before the next possession begins. The defense will be given 10 seconds before the play clock begins. Any substitutions by the offense will afford the defense the opportunity to make substitutions as well.

2.9 Clock If the game score is within three points, stop time will be implemented from the moment there are 2 minutes left in the game. The clock will only stop on an incomplete pass, if the offensive player steps out of bounds, or on a defensive penalty.
2.9.1 Clock The game CANNOT end on a defensive penalty. In the event a defensive penalty is committed during a play and time has expired, the offense will receive one untimed down.

2.10 Receiving a Catch A player is deemed to have made a catch if:

  1. in the open field, he maintains complete control of the ball and makes a football move (i.e. running, juking to avoid a defender).
  2. he maintains complete control of the ball while going to the ground (i.e. a diving catch), without having any part of the ball touch the ground.
  • along the sidelines, he maintains complete control of the ball with BOTH feet in bounds, and retains control while moving/falling out-of-bounds.

Complete control of the ball is defined as having the ball secured in a manner that it is not being juggled or moving. *NOTE: If both the receiver and defender have simultaneous possession of the ball, the offensive player retains possession.

2.11 Fumble If a player loses control of the ball while running or making a football move, the ball is loose and can be recovered by any player. However, only one member of each team can dive at the ball (i.e. under no circumstances should there be a pile up of multiple players).
2.11.1 A fumble recovered by the offensive player cannot be advanced unless the player who fumbled is the one to make the recovery. If this is not the case, the ball is dead at the spot of the recovery and the line of scrimmage will be the spot of the fumble. If the ball is recovered by another offensive player, but behind the spot of the fumble, the ball will be dead at the spot of the recovery AND this will be the new line of scrimmage.

2.12 Laterals A lateral occurs if an offensive player tosses the ball to a teammate who is behind his lateral position on the field. With the exception of the quarterback, any player can receive a lateral, and an unlimited number of laterals may take place on any given play. However, if the ball hits the ground during an attempted lateral, Rule 2.11 will be implemented (i.e. it is deemed a fumble).   2.12.1 A QB may participate in a flea-flicker in which a handoff OR lateral pass is made by the QB to a receiver, who, before crossing the line of scrimmage, laterals the ball back to the QB. The QB, however, is not an eligible ball carrier and is only permitted to throw the ball, even if the defense has crossed the line of scrimmage.

2.13 Equipment Each player must wear the provided team shirt as well as track/sweat pants or shorts and running shoes (or cleats). The only additional pieces of equipment permitted are gloves, sports glasses and hats. Jewellery and glasses are NOT permitted.


Section 3- Offensive Penalties

3.1 Delay of Game The offensive team will receive 25 seconds from the time the ball is spotted by the referee to start a play. Referees will give 10-second and 5-second warnings. Failure to start a play within the allotted 25 seconds will result in a loss of down.

3.2 False Start Any motion by the offensive players towards the direction of the end-zone, or laterally at the line of scrimmage, in the immediate moments prior to the snap will be deemed false start and result in a loss of down. Players may run in motion laterally, but only behind the QB.

3.3 Pass Interference Once the ball is thrown, any contact initiated by the receiver to gain an advantage over the defender will be deemed pass interference and lead to a loss of down. The ball will be moved back one pylon.
3.3.1 Pass Interference An offensive player may not set a ‘screen’ or ‘pick’ to free his teammate. Result of the play will be a loss of down and the ball will be moved back one pylon.

3.4 Spin Move The ball carrier may not perform a 360-degree spin in an attempt to evade defenders. He may, however, stop his forward progress, retreat and turn back downfield. A spin move will result in a dead-ball at the start of the spin.

3.5 Stiff Arm/Hand Swipe/Flag Guard The ball carrier may not use his free arm to fend off defenders attempting to grab his flags. This includes using the free arm to push the defender or guard the flags.

3.6 Blocking Offensive players may not move towards a defender to prevent him from reaching the ball carrier. Result of the play will be a dead ball at the spot of the block.

3.7 Improper Positioning of Flags All players must have BOTH flags attached to the belt, one on the left side of the body and one on the right side (NOT one in the front and one in the back). It is the responsibility of each player to ensure flags are at the sides throughout the game. If the ball carrier does not have both flags on and at the sides, the ball will be dead at the spot, unless it is deemed that the position of the flag(s) was changed by a defender attempting to pull the flag(s).

3.8 Illegal Forward Pass Once beyond the line of scrimmage, any pass that results in the ball moving ahead (ie closer to the offensive endzone) of the ball carrier’s position at the moment of the release will be deemed an illegal forward pass. The result of the play will be a dead ball at the spot where the forward pass was made.

3.9 Too Many Men in Huddle/on Field A maximum of SIX players are allowed on the field and in the huddle at any given time. A loss of down will result if the offensive team has 7 (or 6 under 5-on-5 conditions) players in the huddle or during game play.

3.10 Lowering Shoulder/Charging The ball carrier may not lower his shoulder or run into a motionless defensive player. Play will be dead at the spot of the contact and the ball will be moved back one pylon.

3.11 Illegal substitution A player who is substituting out of the game must come off the field on the side where his bench is located. Failure to do so will lead to a loss of down.


Section 4- Defensive Penalties

4.1 Offside A defensive player who crosses the line of scrimmage prior to the 7 (seven) ‘steamboat’ count as counted by the referee, or prior to the snap of the ball, will be deemed offside. The ball will be advanced to the next pylon OR the offensive team can choose to decline the penalty and continue with the next down from the spot where the play ended.

4.2 Holding A defensive player may not grab/hold onto the opponent or any equipment he may be wearing. If such holding occurs PRIOR to the ball being thrown, the ball will be advanced to the next pylon and the offense will get to replay the down. If such an infraction occurs AFTER the catch, the ball will be advanced to the next pylon and the down will be re-played.
4.2.1 If during an attempt to strip the ball carrier of the ball it is deemed that he defender is impeding the forward progress of the ball carrier, a holding penalty will be called.

4.3 Pass Interference Once the ball is thrown, any contact initiated by the defender to gain an advantage over the receiver or to prevent the receiver from catching the ball will be deemed pass interference. The ball will be advanced to the next pylon and a fresh set of downs will be awarded.

4.4 Too many men If the defense has greater than SIX (or FIVE for 5-on-5 games) players on the field during the play, the ball will be advanced one pylon and the down will be re-played, OR the offensive team can choose to decline the penalty and continue with the next down from the spot where the play ended.

4.5 Roughing the passer A defensive player may not make contact with the QB at any time before, during or after the throw. The QB must be given enough space to complete the follow-through of his throw. Ball will be advanced to the next pylon and a fresh set of downs will be awarded.

4.6 Illegal substitution A player who is substituting out of the game must come off the field on the side where his bench is located. Failure to do so will lead to the ball being advanced one pylon from the line of scrimmage and the down will be repeated.


Section 5- Personal Fouls

5.1 Unnecessary Contact Any contact deemed by the referee to be excessive and, therefore, unnecessary will lead to the ball being advanced one pylon and a fresh set of downs being awarded. This includes contact made with the body during failed attempts by the defensive player to strip the ball from the ball carrier.

5.2 Excessive Celebration Any dancing, gestures deemed inappropriate Islamically and/or by the referees or use of the ball as a prop will be deemed excessive celebration. Opponent will begin the ensuing drive from mid-field. Spiking of the ball is permitted, however the ball must be retrieved and returned to the referee immediately (i.e. within the 10 seconds allotted for substitution). Any delay beyond this will lead to a delay of game penalty and the opposition will start their ensuing possession with ball advanced one pylon.

5.3 Unsportsmanlike A player may not utter any profanity or vulgarity or taunt the opponent at any time. This includes yelling during the play (e.g. while running with the ball) in an attempt to frighten the opponent, and belittling or insulting the referee(s). An unsportsmanlike penalty committed by the offense will lead to a loss of down and the ball being moved back two pylons. If the penalty occurs prior the start of the 4th down or during 4th down, the ball will be advanced two pylons at the start of the opposition’s next drive (in addition to the loss of down). If the penalty occurs after 4th down or after a touchdown is scored, the opposition will start the next drive at mid-field. An unsportsmanlike penalty committed by the defense will result in the ball being advanced two pylons and a fresh set of downs will be awarded.


Section 6- Standings

If there is a tie in the standings, the tie-breaker will be as follows: (1) Point differential; (2) head-to-head results between the two teams that are tied; (3) point differential in head-to-head meetings between the two teams that are tied.

 

Offensive Penalties
Delay of Game Loss of down
False Start Loss of down
Pass Interference Move back one pylon from line of scrimmage; loss of down
Spin Move Dead ball at spot of spin
Stiff Arm/Hand Swipe Dead ball at spot of stiff arm/swipe
Blocking Dead ball at spot of block
Illegal Forward Pass Dead ball at the spot of pass
Improper Positioning of Flags Dead ball at spot of catch/run
Too Many Men in Huddle/On Field Loss of down
Lowering Shoulder/Charging Move back one pylon from spot of foul
No Jersey Opponent starts at mid-field
Illegal Substitution Loss of down

 

Defensive Penalties
Offside Advance one pylon from line of scrimmage; replay down
Defensive Holding (before ball is thrown) Advance one pylon from line of scrimmage; replay down
Defensive Holding (after catch) Advance one pylon from end of play; replay down
Pass Interference Advance one pylon from line of scrimmage; fresh set of downs
Improper Positioning of Flags Dead ball at spot of catch
Roughing the Passer Advance one pylon from line of scrimmage; fresh set of downs
Too Many Men on Field Advance one pylon from line of scrimmage; replay down
Illegal Substitution Advance one pylon from line of scrimmage; replay down

 

Personal Fouls
Unnecessary Contact (offense) Move back one pylon from spot of foul; loss of down
Unnecessary Contact (defense) Advance one pylon from end of play; fresh set of downs
Excessive Celebration Opponent starts next possession at mid-field
Offensive Unsportsmanlike Penalty (Taunting) Move back two pylons, loss of down
If prior to start of, or during,4th down, loss of down and opponent starts next possession with ball advanced two pylons
If after 4th down or after TD is scored on the possession, opposition starts next possession at mid-field
Defensive Unsportsmanlike Penalty (Taunting) Advance two pylons; fresh set of downs