The reason behind the fine? The members of the team were wearing “inappropriate clothing” for the game, according to the European Handball Federation.
The disciplinary committee of the European Handball Federation (EHF) slapped the Norwegian women’s handball team with a 1,500-euro (P89,000) fine after the players wore tight shorts instead of bikini bottoms to their match at the European Beach Handball Championship in Varna, Bulgaria.
Many find it delightful watching women beach sport athletes play not only because of their skills and athleticism, but also because these players undeniably look good in their bikinis, with tanned and toned bodies.
These players may look magazine-cover ready, but some of them find their tiny bikini uniforms “impractical” and could lead to their bodies being sexualized.
Though the International Volleyball Federation already scrapped mandatory wearing of bikinis for its beach volleyball players since 2012, the International Handball Federation (IHF) still requires its women athletes to wear these skimpy uniforms to date.
According to the IHF rules, women athletes must wear bikini bottoms that have a “close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg” and “the side width must be of a maximum of 10 centimeters.” Their top should be a midriff design and close-fitting, with deep cutaway armholes on the back.
Meanwhile, men play in their close-fitting tank top and shorts.
It was during Norway’s bronze medal match against Spain when its members wore shorts. The Norwegians lost the match.
Ahead of the tournament, Norway asked the EHF for permission to play in shorts but were told that breaches of rules were punishable with fines. The team complied throughout the tournament until their last match, AFP reported.
“The most important thing is to have equipment that athletes are comfortable with,” Norwegian Handball Federation (NHF) president Kare Geir Lio told AFP. “It should be a free choice within a standardized framework,” he added.
According to Lio, Norway has campaigned since 2006 for shorts to be officially accepted in beach handball.
Meanwhile, the EHF said in a statement that it is “committed to bring this topic forward in the interest of its member federations, however it must also be said that a change of the rules can only happen at IHF level.”
Norwegian officials reacted strongly about the EHF decision to fine their team.
Dear @ihf_info. 🤾🏻♀️— Lene Westgaard-Halle (@LeneWestgaard) July 14, 2021
Can you please stop the forced bikini nonsense at your beach handball games?
It is embarrassing, disgraceful and sexist.
You are ruining both the sport and your own reputation.
Member of Parliament
“It’s completely ridiculous,” Norway’s minister for Culture and Sports, Abid Raja, tweeted. “What a change of attitude is needed in the macho and conservative international world of sport.”
Norwegian Parliament member Lene Westgaard-Halle tweeted, “Can you stop the forced bikini nonsense at your beach handball games?” She added, “It is embarrassing, disgraceful and sexist. You are ruining both the sport and your own reputation.”
On Instagram, the NHF expressed its support to its players, saying, “They raised their voice and told us that enough is enough. We are the Norwegian Handball Federation and we stand behind you and support you. We will continue to fight to change the international regulations for attire, so that players can play in the clothing they are comfortable with.”
Members of the women’s handball team took to Instagram to thank those who supported them not just in the whole tournament but also when they made a statement by wearing shorts during their bronze match.
“Thank you so much to all the people who support us and help spread the message! We really hope this will result in a change of this nonsense rule!” wrote the team. They signed off the post with the hashtag #letthemwearshorts.
Banner and thumbnail photo from the Norwegian Handball Federaetion