General IFA Rules

1.Arranging Matches

1.1 Matches are usually proposed via email between team organisers a few weeks or months in advance.

1.2 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, Organisers will then canvas their respective mailing lists or forums for available players, and if both receive enough interest the match will go ahead. Such matches are referred to as ‘Double Header fixtures’.

1.3 If teams do not receive enough interest to fulfil a Double Header fixture, they are not permitted to play any other IFA fixture on the same date.

1.4 If your opposition cannot raise a team for a double header fixture, whether home or away, teams must inform the Committee ahead of organising an alternative fixture to replace it.

1.5 The Committee will use a 90 minute rule to determine if alternative fixtures can go ahead. Teams must be able to get to their main team’s afternoon fixture within 90 minutes, otherwise the fixture will not count towards the IFA league.

1.5 Teams in Scotland are to inform the IFA Scotland league organiser which two dates their double headers will be played, as the ‘main teams’ will play each other 3 or 4 times in the league over the course of the season.

1.6 When a team does not have a possible double header fixture on any given Saturday they are free to invite any passing team, or make arrangements to play a local team within 90 minutes from home, who also do not have a possible double header fixture.

1.7 Exceptions may be granted to to accommodate IFA British Cup fixtures subject to agreement by the committee.

2. Determining the Type of Match

2.1 The option of whether games are classified as IFA League games or friendlies is usually by agreement of both sides.

2.2 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.

2.3 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).

2.4 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

3.1 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:


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

3.2 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:


3.3 It is important that the match date is included in both messages.

3.4 This is the only format we will accept for announcing fixtures and results.

4. Match Conditions

4.1 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.

4.2 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.

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

5. Eligible Players

5.1 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.

5.2 Players should be recruited and chosen for matches regardless of ability. Any team who is considered by the committee to be attempting to gain a sporting advantage by selecting and recruiting based solely on ability will be considered to be in breach of the IFA spirit.

5.2 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. When this is not possible at short notice, a recruited player should not, under any circumstances, receive priority over a genuine supporter.

5.3 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.

5.4 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

6.1 The IFA 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.

6.2 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.

6.3 Players are reminded that all referees will make honest mistakes. Dissent is unnecessary and in contradiction to the spirit in which IFA games are normally played.

6.4 Common sense and honesty is called for on behalf of the players in order to assist the referee.

6.5 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

7.1 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.

7.2 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.

7.3 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.

7.4 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

8.1 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

9.1 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.

9.2 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.

9.3 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

10.1 Communication is extremely important in the run up to a game. If you cannot arrange contact, you should not arrange games. Managers from both teams should liaise with each other to ensure the pitch, referee and players are all available.

10.2 It is the responsibility of both managers 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.

11 Game Cancellation

11.1 Any team withdrawing from a match after 5pm on the Thursday before the game will forfeit the match 3-0 and may be subject to sanctions after an investigation by the committee involving evidence of all communication between the teams.

11.2 Cancelling teams will also be liable for any payments already made or cancellations fees (pitch fees, referee expenses, etc).

11.3 Other than for adverse weather conditions, cancelling a game on the day should never happen. Not only is there cost involved but potentially a lot of players travelling long distances. The committee will investigate and take the appropriate action should this ever happen.

12. IFA Cup Matches

12.1 IFA Cup matches MUST also count towards the IFA League.

12.2 For teams to be eligible for the 2019/20 IFA British Cup, teams need to have completed a minimum of 7 fixtures within the IFA British League during the 2018/19 season. Teams will be ineligible to enter unless this criteria is met.

13. Regional Cups

13.1 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.

13.2 Any team who wishes to arrange a double header fixture should also get priority over any regional cup tie.

14. Injuries

14.1 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

15.1 The IFA are always delighted to hear from any team that meets our criteria and would like to join the organisation.

15.2 Existing teams are also encouraged to find new teams, as this benefits everyone.

15.3 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.

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

Last update: 10 June 2019