Handball (also known as team handball, European handball or Olympic handball) is a team sport in which two teams of seven players each (six outfield players and a goalkeeper) pass a ball using their hands with the aim of throwing it into the goal of the other team. A standard match consists of two periods of 30 minutes, and the team that scores more goals wins.
Modern handball is played on a court 40 by 20 metres (131 by 66 ft), with a goal in the middle of each end. The goals are surrounded by a 6-meter (20 ft) zone where only the defending goalkeeper is allowed; goals must be scored by throwing the ball from outside the zone or while "diving" into it. The sport is usually played indoors, but outdoor variants exist in the forms of field handball and Czech handball (which were more common in the past) and beach handball. The game is fast and high-scoring: professional teams now typically score between 20 and 35 goals each, though lower scores were not uncommon until a few decades ago. Body contact is permitted by the defenders trying to stop the attackers from approaching the goal.
The game was codified at the end of the 19th century in northern Europe. The modern set of rules was published in 1917 in Germany, and had several revisions since. The first international games were played under these rules for men in 1925 and for women in 1930. Men's handball was first played at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin as outdoors, and the next time at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich as indoors, and has been an Olympic sport since. Women's team handball was added at the 1976 Summer Olympics.
The International Handball Federation was formed in 1946 and, as of 2016, has 197 member federations. The sport is most popular in the countries of continental Europe, which have won all medals but one in the men's world championships since 1938. In the women's world championships, only two non-European countries have won the title: South Korea and Brazil. The game also enjoys popularity in the Far East, North Africa and parts of South America.
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