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Image / Agenda / Breaking Stories

Female beach handball players will no longer be forced to wear bikini bottoms


By Sarah Finnan
02nd Nov 2021

@amalieskram / Twitter

Female beach handball players will no longer be forced to wear bikini bottoms

Earlier this year the Norwegian beach handball team were fined for not wearing bikini bottoms, and their stance has led to a rule change in the sport.

The International Handball Federation has changed the rules which required female players to wear bikini bottoms with sides of no more than 4 inches.

Although it changed the rules with no public comment or announcement, it appears to be a reaction to the backlash they received after the Norwegian beach handball team were fined €1,500 earlier this year for choosing to wear shorts.

The sexist double standard between male and female competitors was glaring, as men are allowed to wear shorts that come to four inches above their knees. Even with the new rules, women’s shorts are required to be “body fit”, which the men’s are not.

The new rules also permit tank tops that cover the stomach, where before only bra-style tops were permitted.

The style of women’s uniforms that are now permitted. Photo: International Handball Federation

Attention was drawn to the issue in July this year, when the Norwegian women’s team was fined during the European Beach Handball Championships for going against the competition’s dress code and wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms. 

Imposing a €150 fine per player (€1,500 for the whole team), the Disciplinary Commission described the violation as a case of “improper clothing”. Addressing the incident in a statement, the European Handball Federation (EHF) claims that the Norwegian team “played with shorts that are not according to the Athlete Uniform Regulations”. 

“The Disciplinary Commission at the Beach Handball EURO 2021 has dealt with a case of improper clothing. In the bronze medal game against Spain on Sunday the team of Norway played with shorts that are not according to the Athlete Uniform Regulations defined in the IHF Beach Handball Rules of the Game.

“The Disciplinary Commission decided to impose a fine of €150 per player, for a total of €1,500,” the statement continued.

According to the IHF beach-handball rule book at the time, female athletes “must wear bikini bottoms” that are a “close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg”. Female team members must wear identical bikini bottoms, with the side width measuring no more than 4 inches. 

Approaching the EHF for permission to play in shorts ahead of the game, the team’s requests were denied. However, finding the required uniform to be  “too revealing” and claiming that it makes them feel “unnecessarily sexualised and uncomfortable” the Norwegian players decided to take a stand and wore shorts anyway. 

But, they were ultimately punished for the move. Which seems highly hypocritical when considering that male competitors are afforded the luxury of wearing shorts, with the only stipulation being that they fall 4 inches above the kneecap.

Speaking to AFP, Norweigian Handball Federation president Kare Geir Lio said that the federation was ready to pay the fine so long as athletes were happy and comfortable. “The most important thing is to have equipment that athletes are comfortable with,” Lio said. “It should be a free choice within a standardised framework.”

Grabbing the attention of people all around the globe, even the celebs were outraged by the whole thing, with singer Pink tweeting her support of the team over the weekend… even offering to cover the cost of their fines for them.

“I’m VERY proud of the Norwegian female beach handball team FOR PROTESTING THE VERY SEXIST RULES ABOUT THEIR “uniform”. The European handball federation SHOULD BE FINED FOR SEXISM. Good on ya, ladies. I’ll be happy to pay your fines for you. Keep it up.

Fans were quick to thank Pink for voicing her opinion on the ruling, including Norwegian Minister Abid Raja who said that he hoped “we can change this stupid rule!