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IHF Rule Interpretation at GER/DEN 2019

By Ramón Gallego (IHF PRC Chairman), Dietrich Späte (IHF CCM Chairman) & Per Bertelsen (IHF COC Chairman)

At the upcoming Men’s Handball World Championship in January 2019 in Denmark and Germany, all participants – players, coaches, referees and officials – will have the opportunity to present our sport to the world in an attractive way, just as we did at past major events.

Due to a clear and consistent rule interpretation, with a minimum of interruptions yet intense and fair matches, we helped handball become the second best sport in terms of spectators at the 2016 Olympics in Rio and were able to make a lasting impression on the international sports world. It is our shared goal to further increase the attractiveness of handball and keep winning over young people for our sport.

Just as you professionally and intensively prepare your team for this top event, the IHF has been using a new concept since the 2017 World Championship in France to better and more extensively prepare referees for the high demands of top-level matches. Today’s handball is a modern high-speed game that captivates many fans and spectators, and it is a basic requirement that all referees are physically and mentally fit to officiate the matches at a World Championship under high pressure.

All referee couples nominated for the 2019 Men’s World Championship participated in a three-day preparatory seminar in October in Frankfurt, Germany. The seminar focused on topics such as rule interpretation, tactical understanding of the game, referee-specific athletics training, mental training and personality training.

To ensure full transparency for all participating teams of the 2019 Men’s World Championship, we would like to provide you with all documents as well as extensive and commented video footage on the following five seminar topics related to the IHF rule interpretation:

  • Rule 8 (line for progressive punishment)
  • Pivot zone (line for the rule interpretation during duels around the goal area between line players and defenders)
  • Offensive fouls (decision-making criteria for different situations)
  • Passive play (examples of the correct use of the forewarning signal for passive play; situations that require immediate passive play decisions)
  • General topics

We describe all 56 videos in detail in overview tables. Please pay close attention to the guidelines specified in these tables to ensure a consistent interpretation of the rules by all referees.

All documents and videos are available for download at the following link:


All referees are required to ensure that matches are as attractive as possible and to minimise interruptions in line with today’s fast play. Together with the World Championship referees, we have also developed clear guidelines, which allow the referees to consistently punish for actions that endanger the players’ health from the very beginning.

We hope that together we will succeed in presenting a positive and attractive image of our sport worldwide in January 2019.