NT2 1978

How to understand referee decisions better

EHF / Björn Pazen

What will be the common line of the 18 referee pairs, officiating the matches at the Men’s EHF EURO 2022? What was - and is - the focus of the referee’s preparation for the pinnacle event in January in Hungary and Slovakia? How will certain fouls or actions be sanctioned and punished? What is the new line of progressive punishment during the EHF EURO? All coaches find the answers to all these and many more referee decisions-related questions in a specially created EHF video portal.

The EHF Technical Refereeing Committee (TRC), namely their head Dragan Nachevski, has composed almost 100 video sequences with examples and comments by the TRC for the preparation of the teams. This material provides the coaches with key points, such as passive play, wing play, pivot play, progressive punishment or offensive fouls.

“All federations received the links to download all those videos middle of December, so we all hope that the coaches had enough time to watch those scenes and understand our way of refereeing at the EHF EURO,” Nachevski told eurohandball.com.

“Nobody can say that he did not know, because they have received our input. We cannot change everything at one single tournament, but we hope that the EHF EURO 2022 is a good start for this new way of refereeing.”

One key point is about progressive punishment: “We have analysed that referees show too many yellow cards just to show them, so we must reduce the numbers,” says Nachevski. “We will introduce new ways of progressive punishment, as also the numbers of red cards were too high in the last two years, mainly in the EHF Champions League Men.

“We need more two minutes and less red cards. We put together 50 per cent of examples from the last EHF EURO and then 50 per cent of the last two years, to show the development - and to show that there were many cases in which a two-minute suspension would have been enough.”

Twenty-six videos have been composed for this topic, and the TRC underlines that “the situations that are most suited for the use of a yellow card are: Failure to respect the 3-meter distance, intercepting a pass with the foot, simulation and systematic violation of the goal area by the defence and similar”.

A clear distinction shall be made between fouls that will be punished in the traditional way (beginning with the yellow card) and those fouls that go beyond the usual tradition and will be punished with either an immediate two-minute suspension or even a direct disqualification, such as fouls that are committed with high intensity or against an opponent who is running fast, holding on to the opponent for a long time, or pulling a player down, fouls against the head, throat or neck, hard hitting against the torso or throwing arm, attempting to make the opponent lose body control, pushing from the side or from the back an opponent who is running or jumping - all punished by two minutes.


A direct qualification shall be used for loss of body control while running or jumping or during a throwing action, attacking the thrower’s arm from the side or from behind, aggressive actions especially against face, throat or neck, goalkeeper contact when leaving goal area in order to catch a pass intended for an opponent, when a foul under Rule 8:5 or 8:6 is committed during the last minute of a game, with the purpose of preventing a goal. “When the health of a player is endangered, it is always a red card,” says Nachevski.

In terms of pivot play the EHF EURO referees were instructed to be more proactive in responding to fights with and without ball at the six-metre line to ensure better behaviour in this area.

“There are too many fights at the six-metre line, from pulling the shirt to pushing the defender into the six-metre zone, to have a clear line on all those actions is a core part,” says Nachevski.

Like for the pivot play, the TRC have implemented a line for fouls against wings: “We will have a strict punishment for those defenders, who endanger the health of the wings, by stepping on the foot of the wing or pushing the wing in the air,” says Nachevski. “The danger to a wing player who is jumping and not the intensity of the body contact shall be the basis for the judgment whether a disqualification is warranted or not.”

Another crucial point of the referee guideline are those situations, which are sanctioned by a penalty, the guidelines say: A seven-metre throw shall be awarded in situations when a clear chance of scoring a goal is prevented by a rule infringement anywhere on the court or a player deliberately enters the own goal area to stop the ball or gain other advantages over an attacking player in possession of the ball.

“Not every block is a seven metre. We had a lot of discussions about decisions either seven metres or offensive foul, but we need more free throws, if the defender is in front of the six-metre area,” adds Nachevski.

The line for offensive fouls is clearly mentioned in the guideline: If a defensive player stands in a correct position (frontally) and the attacking player runs or jumps into him, then an offensive foul shall be called.

One point, in which referees and coaches often argue is passive play: “For 59 minutes nobody cares about passive play, only the last minute is in the focus, but we instruct the referees to keep the line for 60 minutes, and shall not destroy the last minute and the last attacks. We have principles for passive play, and no changes in the line shall occur during the match,” underlines Nachevski.

The guidelines say: There is not a set time for passive play, and it is at the referees’ judgment (not the coach) to raise their arm, depending on a team’s intentions and efforts. Six passes are usually allowed, but if the offense is too passive, the referees may blow their whistle earlier.

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