The Sport

Goalball is played exclusively by athletes who are blind or vision impaired. Players must wear opaque eyeshades at all times ensuring fair competition. Teams are made up of six players, with three members playing at any one time. The three positions are centre, right wing, and left wing.

The object of the game is to throw a ball past the opponents and into their net to score points. Players stay on their hands and knees to defend their net and score against their opponents.

A goalball court measures 18 metres long and nine metres wide. It has goals at each end covering the entire nine-metre back-line. String is taped to the markings on the court to allow players to feel the lines and orientate themselves.

The ball weighs 1.25 kilograms. It is approximately 76 centimetres along its circumference and contains bells to allow players to hear it and track its movements.

Only players and referees may talk or make noise during play. Coaches, teammates on the bench and spectators must remain silent so players can hear and locate the ball. Officials use verbal commands to inform players of what is happening during the game.

Goalball requires two referees during each game. Four goal-judges remain at the corners of the court to verify if the ball touches crosses the line into goals. They also retrieve the ball when it goes out of bounds.

When a member of the defensive team touches the ball, they have 10 seconds to throw it back without being penalised. Penalties normally result in a penalty shot, during which the penalised player has to defend the entire nine-metre net alone.

Along with the 10-second violation, penalties are also awarded for high ball, long ball, excessive noise, delaying the game and touching one’s eyeshades.

A “high ball” occurs when a team throws the ball and it fails to land before or on the first high ball line. There are two high-ball lines which are six metres from each goal line, dividing the court into thirds. The ball must land before or on the first high-ball line, and then again on or before the second high-ball line. If it does not touch the ground again on or before the second high-ball line, it is considered a “long ball.”


All international athletes must be legally blind, meaning they have less than 10 per cent vision or a visual field restricted to 40 degrees diameter, and are classified as a B3, a B2, or a B1 – totally blind.

In order to ensure a fair competition between the teams, all players must wear eyeshades during the game.

History and Paralympic Debut

Goalball was invented in 1946 to help rehabilitate veterans who had lost their sight during the Second World War.

Governed by the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), the sport was included in the Paralympic sport programme for the first time at Toronto 1976, with the women’s event being added at the 1984 Paralympic Games in New York, USA.

The first World Championships for goalball were held in Vocklamarck, Austria, in 1978. IBSA governs goalball and holds World Championships every four years, in between the Paralympic Games.


Iran Goalball

Goalball for the first time was administered in 1980 and players represented Team Iran at 1988 Seoul Paralympic Games, same year in which the first national competitions staged in the country. 
Currently, para athletes are under support of I. R. Iran Sports Federation for the Blind (IRISFB) which is member of the NPC to get support.



Watch an introduction to the sport on Paralympic Sports A-Z: Goalball