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Women's beach handball team refuse to wear bikini bottoms at Olympics, get fined because of sexist rules

Women players are mandated by regulations to wear a 'bikini bottom that must not be more than ten centimeters on the sides.'

Women's beach handball team refuse to wear bikini bottoms at Olympics, get fined because of sexist rules
Image source: Twitter/@amalieskram

The Norwegian women’s beach handball team wants to wear comfortable clothing while playing the sport instead of being forced to wear bikini bottoms that are uncomfortable and sexualizes them. The handball team said they are done with the degrading attire and called for a change in the rules that mandate they wear bikini bottoms that cover only 10 centimeters on the side. The incident happened when the Norwegian women’s beach handball played the European Championships in beach handball. The team's stance threw a spotlight on the reported sexism as men are allowed to wear shorts to their games. "We are forced to play with panties," Norwegian team captain Katinka Haltvik told NRK, reported Inside the games. "It is so embarrassing."


The regulations are very particular about what women wear, down to the measurements while it's relaxed for men. "Women should wear a bikini where the top should be a tight-fitting sports bra with deep openings at the arms," read the international regulations of beach handball. "The bottom must not be more than ten centimeters on the sides." The Norwegian Beach Handball Association has been fighting to have the rules changed. Even prior to the European Championships in Bulgaria, they had planned to protest against the regulations and play in thigh-length tights, reported Fox News.


The Norwegian women’s beach handballs were warned they would be fined if they didn't wear the bikini bottoms that the game regulations mandated. "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. We accepted that", Katinka Haltvik told the national broadcaster NRK. Once they came to a consensus and agreed to pay the fine, the organizer warned them of disqualification. "However, just before the match we were told that we will be disqualified if we play like that, said Haltvik. Fearing disqualification, the Norwegian players wore bikini bottoms. When later questioned about it, the European Handball Federation (EHF) reportedly said that they had merely explained the list of penalties for the Norwegian Federation, and their disqualification was never an option.


Kåre Geir Lio, head of the NHF, was disappointed with the reaction of the European Handball Federation (EHF). "It's so embarrassing and hopeless — we are happy to pay the fine if that was what it was about. We have contacted them and worked for this for several years. We have raised it at the Congress and we have been promised that this will be sorted out. Still, nothing happens. It's just sad for the ladies to have to deal with this." 


It's not a problem that bothers just the Norwegian team. French national team manager, Valérie Nicolas, added that players on his team had quit the sport because of the stringent rules. "We have lost players due to the suits. 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," said Valérie Nicolas. "There is also discomfort associated with menstruation and not least religion." Nicolas, along with the French team, is backing Norway in this battle. 


The Norwegian women’s handball didn't make it to the finals, but they certainly left their mark and probably started the movement that could pave way for comfortable attire. The EHF's spokesman said they were looking to change the law but Lio isn't too convinced. Sweden, Denmark, France, and Norway are going to send a letter to the EHF requesting a change in the regulations, said Lio.



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