General IFA Rules

1. Arranging Matches
Matches are usually proposed via email between team organisers a few weeks or months in advance. Typically the home team organiser will invite the away team to play in the morning on a day when their supported clubs are playing each other in the afternoon, or where the away team’s supported club is in the area that afternoon. Organisers will then canvas their respective mailing lists or forums for available players, and if both receive enough interest the match will go ahead.

2. Determining the Type of Match
The option of whether games are classified as IFA League games or friendlies is usually by agreement of both sides. Where teams are playing the same opposition for the third time in a season with two League games already having been played, it will automatically be deemed a friendly. The only exceptions to this rule are a) in Scotland where teams may play each other up to three times in League games, and b) where a meeting takes place in the IFA Cup.

A match cannot be a League game for one team and a friendly for the other team. If there is any ambiguity in the fixture announcement on the IFAWorldNET mailing list, a match will be assumed to be a League match unless it does not qualify as such (usually as a result of one or both teams having already played the maximum number of games that season).

Friendly matches are to be encouraged to help teams develop, especially for new teams, even after a team has completed its quota of League-qualifying matches for a season.

3. Reporting of Matches
Matches must be announced to the IFAWorldNET mailing list prior to the game being played. The subject of the email must be in the following format:

[FIXTURE LEAGUE/REGIONAL LEAGUE/CUP/FRIENDLY/OTHER COMPETITION NAME Home Team v Away Team dd/mm/yyyy]

The email body should contain any additional information that you think might be relevant or of interest.

Following the game, results must also be emailed to the mailing list within 28 days of the fixture being played. The subject of the email must be in the following format:

[RESULT LEAGUE/REGIONAL LEAGUE/CUP/FRIENDLY/OTHER COMPETITION NAME Home Team 2-2 Away Team dd/mm/yyyy]

It is important that the match date is included in both messages. This is the only format we will accept for announcing fixtures and results.

4. Match Conditions
The minimum number of players required by a team for the match to be eligible is eight. Any team turning up with less than eight players, or indeed not turning up at all, will automatically forfeit the game. Any team turning up more than 30 minutes after the agreed kick-off time without good reason will also forfeit the game. Any forfeit will result in a 1-0 defeat for the team that forfeits.

Matches should be played under the standard Laws of the Game, with the main exception being a system of “rolling subs”. This includes the match duration, which should be 90 minutes unless previously agreed between the two sides. If a match is shortened at short notice, reasons for this should be included in the result announcement email.

5. Eligible Players
Players selected to play in IFA matches must be members of an email list or forum and be bona fide supporters of the club they are representing. The whole purpose of the IFA is to allow supporters of teams to represent the club they support against “rival” teams in friendly games to build bridges between fans. Selecting and playing players who do not support the team you represent is against the IFA Spirit. While we understand that a late drop-out would require a quick replacement to be found, we would actively encourage all teams to use a player that is a bona fide supporter of your team, irrelevant of ability, where possible. Where this is not possible at short notice, a recruited player should not, under any circumstances, receive priority over a genuine supporter.

If a team is struggling for players in the days leading up to a match, they may seek “loan” players from other IFA teams. This helps to foster relations between teams and encourages the inter-mingling of fans, which is what we’re all here for. Should any team arrive for a game with more than 8 but less than 11 players, or if injury during a game leads to either team playing with less than 11, the opposing side are expected to offer replacements from their substitutes if they have them, to bring both sides up to a full complement of players and ensure the fixture takes place. If both teams are short, managers should use their initiative to ensure both sides have equal numbers.

6. Referees and Officials
Internet football is renowned for the friendly spirit in which matches are played. Although we do not specify that matches must be refereed by a qualified official, the use of one obviously allows players to concentrate on the game and for the game to progress smoothly.

In the absence of a qualified referee, where both teams have a full complement of players and substitutes, each team should referee a half each.

Players are reminded that such referees will make honest mistakes. Dissent is unnecessary and in contradiction to the spirit in which IFA games are normally played. Common sense and honesty is called for on behalf of the players in order to assist the referee. In matches where there are insufficient people to supply assistant referees, it is generally accepted that referees should be the sole arbiter in deciding offside decisions, and as such he or she may decide to only penalise “very obvious” infringements. Players should be sympathetic towards the referee in this situation and should not seek to take advantage of his or her lack of 47 eyes.

7. Discipline
It is the responsibility of team management/officials to ensure that all team staff, players and supporters follow the agreed standards of behaviour both on and off the pitch. In the case of on-pitch activities, it is expected that team managers/captains will remove any offending players from the field of play for a period of time at their discretion, using the IFA policy of allowing “rolling subs”. The IFA is no place for “hotheads”, people wishing to behave in such a manner should seek their entertainment elsewhere.

The IFA is a friendly organisation, there should not be any circumstances where players are sent off or forced to be substituted. If the home team has recruited a referee for the match, it is their responsibility to ensure that the referee is briefed on the IFA approach to matches BEFORE the game commences.

By entering the IFA, teams have agreed to be responsible for their own actions, so there should be no need for the intervention of the IFA Committee. There will be no warnings on behaviour – if the Committee feel the need to act they will do so with Draconian effect to offending teams. This should not happen because you are all sensible and will be playing games in the spirit they are intended.

8. Discrimination and Abuse
It is every participant’s duty to ensure that teams and individual participants are not subject to any form of discrimination or abuse. We gladly welcome all participants regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Any participant or team that fails to accept this is not welcome at IFA events.

9. Social Media

We all have a presence on Twitter and Facebook, and most teams follow each other on these platforms. All teams and associated players must respect each other at all times, both on the pitch and on social media networks. Any player or team seen to be disrespecting their opposition or another IFA side will be investigated with any individuals involved and their team facing expulsion from IFA competitions in extreme cases. If anybody sees a member of their team commenting in this manner, it is down to the manager to proactively resolve the issue before it escalates.

10. Communication

It is the manager’s responsibility when arranging games to make sure that all lines of communication are open. This includes the exchange of phone numbers to ensure contact can happen away from the IFA Mailing List. If you cannot arrange contact, you should not arrange games.

11. Game Cancellation

Other than for adverse weather conditions, cancelling a game on the day should never happen. Communication is key. Not only is there cost involved but potentially a lot of players travelling long distances. If a game has the potential to be cancelled then managers MUST be in communication during the days leading up to the match so a decision can be taken with enough notice to ensure no team is out of pocket. Any team withdrawing from a match within 24 hours of the scheduled kickoff shall be liable for at least 50% of any payments already made (whether that is pitch fees, referee expenses, etc). Cancelling on the day of the game is a NEVER EVENT. If this happens, the affected team is awarded a default 10-0 victory, and the guilty team will likely face sanctions from the committee after investigation.

12. IFA Cup Matches

IFA Cup matches MUST also count towards the IFA League.

13. Regional Cups

IFA Cup ties take ultimate priority over regional cup competitions due to the potential distances involved. By their very nature, regional cup matches should be much easier to arrange. Any team who wishes to arrange a “proper” IFA League match (i.e. one where the two clubs represented by IFA sides meet in the afternoon) should also get priority over any regional cup tie.

14. Injuries
The IFA and its competitions are not registered or affiliated to the FA or any other body, and as such is not covered under the FA’s general insurance terms. The IFA cannot be held responsible for any injury or loss sustained by individuals taking part in IFA competitions. All players compete at their own risk and by taking part accept that this is the case. Players may wish to consider taking out individual insurance cover in the event that they may suffer such injury or loss.

15. New Teams
The IFA are always delighted to hear from any team that meets our criteria and would like to join the organisation. Existing teams are also encouraged to find new teams, as this benefits everyone. New teams will be asked to join the IFAWorldNET mailing list and agree to abide by our rules before any matches are counted towards the league. Fixtures against new teams can be played as friendly matches before these criteria have been met.

In the first instance, please could any teams interested in joining the IFA contact us via this website.