Handball is a team sport where two teams of seven players each (six players and a goalkeeper) pass and bounce a ball trying to throw it in the goal of the opposing team.
The game is similar to football (soccer), regardless of the basic method of handling the ball which is inverse from football. It has been played internationally since the first half of the 20th century.
Handball is played on a court forty meters long by twenty meters wide, with a dividing line in the middle and a goal in the center of either end. The goals are surrounded by a near-semicircular line that is generally six meters away from the goal.
A standard match duration consists of two periods of 30 minutes. Normal league games are usually allowed to end in a draw, but in knockout tournaments, such as the final stages of the Olympics, two extension periods of 10 minutes are played. If each of these ends in a tie after the extra time the winner is determined by an individual shootout from the 7-meter line.
A player may only hold the ball for three seconds and may only take three steps with the ball in hand. There are many rule variations; a common American version allows only a single step with the ball, after which the player must pass the ball or shoot.
The game is quite fast and includes body contact as the defenders try to stop the attackers from approaching the goal.
Penalties are given to players, in progressive format, if the contact between the players is particularly rough. The referees may award a nine-meter free throw to the attacking team, or if the infraction was during a clear scoring opportunity, a seven-meter penalty shot is given. In more extreme cases they give the defender a yellow card (warning), a 2-minute penalty, or a red card. For rough fouls they can also order two-minute expulsions and a red card expulsion without having to warn the player first.
Team handball has origins reaching as far back as the antiquity: urania in ancient Greece, harpaston in ancient Rome, fangballspiel in medieval Germany, etc. There are also records of handball-like games in medieval France, and among the Inuit on Greenland, in the Middle Ages. By the 19th century, there existed similar games of haandbold from Denmark, hazena in Bohemia and Slovakia, gandbol in Ukraine, torball in Germany, as well as versions in Ireland and Uruguay.