Norway's Women's Beach Handball Team Was Fined For Wearing Shorts Instead Of Bikini Bottoms

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BuzzFeed News 20 July, 2021 - 06:18pm 21 views

The International Handball Federation requires women to wear bikini bottoms, even though men wear shorts.

By Stephanie K. Baer

Posted on July 20, 2021, at 7:18 p.m. ET

The Norwegian women's beach handball team was fined on Monday after wearing shorts at the European championships in protest of rules requiring women players to wear bikini bottoms.

The European Handball Federation issued fines of 150 euros per player, for a total of 1,500 euros, saying that their shorts were "improper clothing," according to the regulations set by the International Handball Federation.

The federation's rules state that while men are required to wear shorts, women can only wear bikini bottoms "with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg." The bottoms must have a side width of no more than 10 centimeters, or about 3.9 inches, according to the regulations.

Before the team's first game in the championship, Norway asked the EHF for permission to play in shorts but was told the team could be punished with fines or disqualified if they did, Norwegian Handball Federation President Kåre Geir Lio told NBC News. Then, on Sunday, in the bronze medal match against Spain, the players decided to go ahead anyway as a team.

Lio told the New York Times that the national organization would pay the fines imposed by European regulators as he voiced support for the players.

“Women should have the right to have a uniform they think is suitable for performing in their sport,” Lio said. He also told the Times that Norway had complained about the bikini bottom requirement since 2006 and "nothing has happened."

In a statement on Twitter and Instagram, the Norwegian federation said it was "very proud" of the women for raising their voices and saying that "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH."

"We ... stand behind you and support you," the post said. "Together we will continue to fight to change the international regulations for clothing, so that players can play in the clothes they are comfortable with!"

The International Handball Federation did not immediately respond to questions from BuzzFeed News, but Jessica Rockstroh, a spokesperson for the organization, told the Times that she didn't know the reason for the rules requiring women to wear bikini bottoms.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the European Handball Federation said it was in the process of addressing the issue, adding that "the reaction is based on disinformation on the procedure."

"The position of the players involved is acknowledged and further steps, in close coordination with the IHF, are in motion," the statement said.

The fines over the women handball players' clothing are the latest example of sexist double standards in sports and regulation over what female athletes, in particular, can wear when competing. Earlier this week, Olivia Breen, a Paralympic sprinter and long jumper for the United Kingdom, said an official at the English championships told her that her briefs were "too short and inappropriate."

"I was left speechless," Breen wrote in a Twitter post. "It made me question whether a male competitor would be similarly criticised."

Shireen Ahmed, a writer focused on Muslim women in sports, likened the beach handball clothing regulations to hijab bans; FIFA, in particular, for years banned women soccer players from wearing hijabs.

"It is about controlling women's bodies and not about advantage, danger or anything else," Ahmed tweeted.

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Sporting world erupts over ugly bikini bottoms furore

Yahoo Sport Australia 20 July, 2021 - 03:45pm

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The Norwegian women's team was fined approximately $2400 at the European Beach Handball Championships on Monday after players wore shorts instead of bikini bottoms.

The team showed up for their bronze medal match against Spain wearing shorts, which is against the rules set by the International Handball Federation. 

The European Handball Federation said the shorts were "not according to the athlete uniform regulations defined in the IHF beach handball rules of the game."

Regulations state: “Women should wear a bikini where the top should be a tight-fitting sports bra with deep openings at the arms. 

"The bottom must not be more than ten centimetres on the sides.”

The Norwegian captain claimed to national broadcaster NRK that the team had been threatened with disqualification if they didn't wear bikini bottoms.

“So then we are forced to play with panties. It is so embarrassing,” she said.

“First we were told about a fine of 50 euros per person per match, something that would have landed us a fine of about 4,850 euros ($A7760). 

"We accepted that. However, just before the match we were told that we will be disqualified if we play like that. So we had to go with the bikini bottoms.”

"We are very proud of these girls who are at the European Championships in beach handball," the federation said in a statement.

"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."

While they didn't win their bronze medal match, the players said they are overwhelmed by the support they've received from all around the world for taking a stand against the "nonsense rule."

“We have lost players due to the suits,” she told newspaper Verdens Gang

“The players tell me they are uncomfortable, feel naked, and watched. It is a sport with a lot of movement and you are hindered by the bikini. 

"There is also discomfort associated with menstruation and not least religion.”

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova was among those to savage the shocking furore on social media, tweeting: “That is just ridiculous”.

Others labelled it "sexist" and "disgusting".

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Norwegian women's beach handball team fined for not playing in bikinis

NBC News 20 July, 2021 - 09:23am

The team wore thigh-length elastic shorts during their bronze medal match against Spain in Bulgaria on Sunday to protest against the regulation bikini-bottom design that the sport's Norwegian federation president called “embarrassing.”

The team was fined 1,500 euros total ($1,700) for “improper clothing,” according to a statement from the European Handball Association's Disciplinary Commission.

While male players are allowed to play in tank tops and shorts no longer than 4 inches above the knee, women are required to wear midriff-baring tops and bikini bottoms “with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg” and a maximum side width of 4 inches, according to International Handball Federation regulations.

"It's not [appropriate clothing for] the activity when they are playing in the sand," Norwegian Handball Federation President Kåre Geir Lio told NBC News by phone from Oslo. The women's team trains and competes in "what they want, like the boys" at home in Norway, but is subject to the International Handball Federation's clothing rules when playing abroad, he said.

The team had petitioned to wear the shorts its players train in from the start of the tournament, Lio said, but was threatened by the EHA with a fine or disqualification. By Sunday's bronze medal game the women decided to make a statement.

"It was very spontaneous. We thought, 'Let's just do it now, and then see what happens,'" player Katinka Haltvik told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

"I got a message 10 minutes before the match that they would wear the clothing that they were satisfied with. And they got our full support," Lio said.

The team received support at home and abroad on social media.

"This is completely ridiculous! How many attitude changes are needed in the old-fashioned international patriarchy of sports?" tweeted Norway's Minister of Culture in response to news that the team had been fined.

Norway has campaigned since 2006 for shorts to be officially considered acceptable in beach handball, and will submit a motion to change the rules in an extraordinary congress of the IHF in November, said Lio.

Haltvik hopes it will make the sport more inclusive. "It shouldn't be the case that people don't want to take part because of the outfit," she told NRK in April.

Efforts to regulate official female attire in other beach sports have proven controversial. The Qatar Volleyball Association's initial proposal to ban players from wearing bikinis during an international beach volleyball tournament hosted by the country this year was met with threats of boycott from some players.

The International Volleyball Federation updated its own uniform rules in 2012. In this month's Tokyo Olympics, female beach volleyball players can choose to play in shorts and T-shirts, as well as bikinis or one-piece bathing suits.

A women’s handball team wore shorts instead of skimpy bikini-bottom uniforms. The league fined them over $1,700.

The Washington Post 20 July, 2021 - 06:13am

Many women on the team said the uniforms are not ideal for a sport that requires twists, turns and other athletic movements in the sand, Kare Geir Lio, the head of Norway’s Handball Federation, told The Washington Post in an email. Handball, a game derived from soccer, consists of 10-player teams throwing, catching and dribbling a ball with their hands.

Lio said requiring female players to wear bikini bottoms makes it difficult to recruit women to the sport.

“The federation will support the team’s right to highlight the gender differences, and to play their sport in uniforms they feel comfortable with,” Lio told The Post.

Nevertheless, on Monday, the disciplinary commission of the larger European Handball Federation ordered the team to pay a fine of 1,500 euros — or about $1,770 — for wearing “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 [International Handball Federation] Beach Handball Rules of the Game,” the disciplinary commission said in a statement.

According to the International Handball Federation’s handbook, female athletes must wear bikini bottoms “with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg.” “The side width,” the rules state, “must be of a maximum of 10 [centimeters],” or about 3.9 inches.

The same handbook instructs men handball players must wear longer shorts that are “not too baggy” and “10 [centimeters] above the kneecap.”

The team considered wearing shorts for the opening match, Lio told The Post, but eventually decided against it after the European Handball Federation warned Norway’s Handball Federation that the team could face stricter penalties — including fees or player disqualifications.

The European Handball Federation denied threatening to disqualify the team if the women ditched their bikini bottoms.

“The EHF was aware of the Norwegian Handball Federation’s request and the NHF was subsequently made aware of the list of penalties,” Thomas Schöneich, a spokesman with the European Handball Federation, told The Post in an email. “However, a potential disqualification was not mentioned and has not been an option.”

For the most part, the Norwegian team advanced through the July 13 to July 18 championship wearing the required bikini bottoms. But on Sunday, in a “spontaneous” moment, the team agreed to switch the bikinis for the thigh-length shorts, team captain Katinka Haltvik told Norwegian public broadcasting company NRK.

“Now we just do it, then we will see what happens,” Haltvik said of the team’s decision.

So, on July 18, the team set foot in the sand wearing the blue shorts as the crowd applauded their act of rebellion.

“People cheered on us as we walked in front of several teams and took the brunt. Not all teams can afford to pay such fines,” Haltvik told NRK.

The team lost to Spain, but the captain said she hopes the defiant move can get the women closer to wearing whatever they are most comfortable in during the next championship.

“I hope we get a breakthrough for this and that next summer we play in what we want,” Haltvik told NRK.

As for the next match, the team has not discussed whether the women will wear shorts or bikini bottoms, Lio told The Post.

“Hopefully we will see a new set of rules by then,” Lio said.

Paralympian Told Shorts ‘Too Short’; Handball Team Fined For Rejecting Bikini Bottoms

HuffPost 20 July, 2021 - 05:42am

A British Paralympic athlete was told her track shorts were “too short and inappropriate” while members of the Norwegian women’s national beach handball team were fined for refusing to wear bikini bottoms at a European championship match.

Paralympic sprinter and long jumper Olivia Breen, 24, said she was left “speechless” after a female official criticized her outfit at the English Championships on Sunday.

“I have been wearing the same style sprint briefs for many years and they are specifically designed for competing in. I will hopefully be wearing them in Tokyo. It made me question whether a male competitor would be similarly criticized,” Breen, who has cerebral palsy, wrote on Twitter.

“I recognize that there needs to be regulations and guidelines in relation to competition kit but women should not be made to feel self-conscious about what they are wearing when competing but should feel comfortable and at ease,” Breen added.

England Athletics is investigating, a spokesperson told The Guardian. “The wellbeing of all participants in athletics is of the utmost importance and everyone should feel comfortable to compete and participate in the sport,” the spokesperson said.

Here something I felt like sharing that’s happened to me today at my competition @EnglandAthletic pic.twitter.com/QlYfPDmxEV

The European Handball Federation, meanwhile, on Monday fined Norway’s women’s beach handball team 1,500 Euros (around $1,780) after its players wore shorts instead of bikini bottoms during their Beach Handball EURO 2021 match over the weekend. The team was defeated by Spain in a third-place playoff.

“The Disciplinary Commission at the Beach Handball Euro 2021 has dealt with a case of improper clothing,” the federation said in a statement on its website. “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.” 

Team members described the bikini bottoms as uncomfortable and degrading.

According to the International Handball Federation, “female athletes must wear bikini bottoms … with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg. The side width must be of a maximum of 10 centimeters.”

Male athletes, however, “must wear shorts” that “if not too baggy, can be longer but must remain 10 centimeters above the kneecap.”

Norway’s Handball Federation backed the team in an Instagram post.

“We are very proud of these girls who are at the European Championships in beach handball,” read the statement, per The Independent. “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,” it added. “We will continue to fight to change the international regulations for attire, so that players can play in the clothing they are comfortable with.”

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