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. Commissioner reserves 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 commissioner, 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 commissioner 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 The rules are set by the MFL Reffing & Rules Committee. Any rule modifications will be reviewed by the MFL Reffing & Rules Committee.

1.5 Length of Games Games will be two 22-minute halves, with a 1-minute break for halftime.

1.6 Overtime There will be no overtime during the regular season. In the playoffs, overtime rules will be in effect. After the coin toss, each team will get a possession. If both teams are tied after their first possession, sudden death rules will be in effect (first to score wins). Overtime periods are 10-minutes, and sides will switch after the ten-minute interval. Each team will get one timeout for each overtime period.

1.7 Timeouts Each team is awarded 3 timeouts per half. In each half, two of the 3 timeouts are untimed timeouts (they may be used to stop the clock, but play clock will begin immediately after). 1 timeout will be a 30-second timed timeout. A team may not call consecutive timeouts without a play in between.

1.8 Refunds One month prior to the start of the season; full fees are refundable. If the withdrawal happens after the draft, the fees will be partially refunded once a replacement player has been found until the end of Week 5. After Week 5 of the season, fees are non-refundable. In the case of injury, partial fees will be refunded from Week 5-10 once a replacement player is selected. Fees are non-refundable after Week 10 due to injury.

1.9 Replacement Player A replacement player will be granted by the MFL Rules & Referee committee in case of an injury, or a player disqualified due to an unexcused absence. A replacement player will only be granted before Week 11. Under certain circumstances, the MFL Rules & Referee committee may grant injury exception beyond Week 10.

Section 2 – Gameplay

2.1 Setup of the field It is the responsibility of the Commissioner 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 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 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. If a team does not have 6 players, it may play with 5 players. In the 6-on-6 format, if a team has 4 players, a reserve player will be granted. If no reserves are available, the league will find a suitable replacement from one of other MFL teams. If a team has fewer than 4 players, the game will be forfeited, and the applicable fine will be enforced before their next game. Teams will be given a grace period of 10 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; they will be subject to a fine of $40. The team will not be able to participate in future games until the fine is paid (any future games missed due to unpaid fines will also incur a forfeiture fine).

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. The lifting of the ball, and the audible word should be simultaneous.

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 5 seconds of the call.

2.6 Steam-Boats & Dead Play The QB will have to the count of 5 steamboats (as determined by the referee) to freely run his play. The defensive team can decide to rush the QB AFTER the 5 steamboat count; if the defense rushes the QB after 5 steamboats – the 10-steamboat deadclock is no longer in effect. The QB can only run past the line of scrimmage with the ball if the defensive player(s) crosses the line of scrimmage (after 5 steamboats). If the QB has not thrown the ball after 10 steamboats, the play will result in a dead play and a loss of down. Once the QB hands the ball off, or throws it – the 10-steamboat deadclock is no longer in effect (regardless of if the offense has crossed the line of scrimmage). Once the ball has left the QBs hands, the defense may cross the scrimmage line. If the referee forgets to call out the steamboats, the steamboats will begin at 3 steamboats or 8 steamboats (depending on which one was forgotten).

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 sixteen (16) 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. There will be no 2-minute warning in the first half.
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 the ball move when he or the ball hits the ground. Any bobble or significant movement of the ball will result in an incomplete pass.
  3. 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. There is no advance on a fumble on a 4th down play. If an offensive player fumbles in the field of play, and recovers it in the endzone; the down will be where the fumble originally occurred.

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. 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). Once a pitch has been initiated, defense may cross the line of scrimmage regardless of the steamboat count.

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, and sports/prescription glasses. If you wear prescription glasses, you MUST wear an athletic band to keep the glasses from falling off during gameplay. Jewelry, hats and glasses are NOT permitted.

2.14 Scoring Each series will consist of FOUR (4) Downs for the length of the field (notwithstanding a turnover). If the drive results in a Touchdown, six points will be awarded. The team has the option of “walking-off” and will be awarded the extra point, or attempt a 2-pt conversion. The decision must be made within 5 seconds of scoring the touchdown. Please refer to Section 6 to full details on the 2-point conversion.

2.15 Turnover In the case of an interception or a fumble recovery, the defense will have the opportunity to return the football. Once their flag is pulled, their series will begin at the spot of the flag pull.

2.16 Eligible Receivers All players including the QB are eligible receivers. Refer to rule 3.12 for description of an ineligible receiver.

2.17 Safety If a player is sacked in their own end zone via a flag-pull or a flag-guard, it will be considered a safety. The defense will take over the possession at half, no points are awarded.

2.18 Flag Pulling A player will be deemed “down” once one or both of his flags are pulled (or if the belt is removed.

  • If a player begins the play without a flag, or an improperly positioned flag(s), he will be “down” at the spot of the catch.
  • If the QB does not have a belt, or has one of his flags improperly positioned, he will be “down” once the defense rushes him after 5 steamboats. If the defense does not rush the QB, the 10-steamboat dead-clock will be in effect.
  • In the event that the defense pulls the flag early on the offensive player (ie. Before the ball makes contact with the offensive player’s hand), the defense must pull the second flag. If both flags were pulled before the offensive player had the first touch on the ball, the defense must apply a “two-hand” touch on the offensive player. In this case, the defense will be given the equivalent of the holding penalty at the spot of the “two-hand” touch.
  • If the flags were pulled during a lateral. As long as the defense was making a play on a player with the ball, this person will be deemed “dead” if one or both of his flags are pulled. However, if the flags were pulled well after the ball was released, the referee may deem this as an unnecessary flag pull on the part of the defense, and the player will be deemed live during the play. Furthermore, if the player who is deemed “dead” may reconnect his flags, and be live during the same sequence.

2.19 Protest If a team disputes a rule (not judgment) on the field, they are able to protest. They must inform the referee immediately on the field that the game is being played under protest; it must be protested immediately, and the team may not protest after the next down or after the game. The referee must stop the game, and note the time & the score in case the protest is held up at a later date. The rest of the game will be played on that day.

  1. The protest fee is $100 and is payable within 24 hours of the protest. The team protesting must file the protest in a written format and indicate the rule being improperly applied within their game. The Rules & Referee committee will have 72 hours to rule on the protest. If the protest is upheld, the protest fee will be returned & the game will be rescheduled at a later date and played from that point forward (or end in a tie if no makeup date can be rescheduled). If the protest is denied, the protest fee will be forfeited.
    1. The team has 24 hours to withdraw the protest. If a team protests more than two times, and withdraws the protest each time. The $100 protest will be levied for the 3rd protest and any other subsequent protests. In this case, protest fee is payable before their next game. The protest will only be deliberated once the protest fee is submitted.
  2. If a team would like to protest a forfeit fine, or any levied fines/suspensions that the team believe is against the written rules, they may also file a protest. The protest fee is $100 and is payable within 24 hours of the protest. The team protesting must file the protest in a written format and indicate the rule being improperly applied. The Rules & Referee committee will have 72 hours to rule on the protest. If the protest is upheld, the protest fee will be returned. If the protest is denied, the protest fee will be forfeited and any further fines must be paid before the next game. The protest will only be deliberated once the protest fee is submitted.

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. Any turn greater than 270 degrees, may be considered a spin. The quarterback may use the spin move to evade a flag grab as long as he is behind the line of scrimmage.

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. A running motion that blocks the defender from grabbing the flag will also be deemed a flag guard. An offensive player may also not use the ball to flag guard.

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). If the player has only one flag, or no flags, the play will be deemed dead at the spot of the catch. For the quarterback, the play will be deemed dead after the defense crosses the line of scrimmage after 5 steamboats. If the defense does not rush the QB, the dead play will coincide with the 10-steamboat dead clock.

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. An offensive player on the bench may not be in the end zone during the play, or he will be considered as an extra man on the field.

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 too many men on the field penalty and a loss of down.

3.12 Ineligible Receiver A receiver may be deemed ineligible if he steps out of bounds, and fails to re-establish himself by touching an opponent. If the ineligible receiver were to catch a ball, it would result in a loss of down for the offense.

Section 4 – Defensive Penalties

4.1 Offside A defensive player who crosses the line of scrimmage prior to the 5 (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. If the defensive player holds the opponent jersey, and let’s go without impeding progress of the receiver, referee may deem no penalty in this situation.
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. A defensive player on the bench may not be in the end zone during the play, or he will be considered as an extra man on the field.

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). Swearing, or the use of profanity directed at a player/ref will result in an automatic ejection, and a possible suspension as deemed appropriate by the Commissioner. 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 – Two-point Conversion

6.1 Conversion The offense will attempt a 2-point conversion from the 3rd pylon from the front of the endzone. There will be reduced playclock of 10 seconds for the 2-point conversion. The steamboats and deadclock will remain the same. If the defense forces a turnover and returns it for a Touchdown, the defensive team will be awarded 2 points. If there is a penalty on the defense, the 2-pt conversion will be reattempted. If there is a penalty on the offense, the penalty will be applied at the earliest opportunity (i.e. If the penalty happens while offense still has the ball, it will result in a loss of down. However, if the penalty occurs while the defensive team is returning the ball, the penalty will be applied on the next series).

Section 7 – Standings

7.1 Tie Breakers 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. (4) Most wins. If all scenarios are tied, final standings will be determined by a coin flip.


 

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