When you hear about a fine for “improper clothing” you don’t expect it to be for wearing TOO MUCH! But that’s exactly what happened to the Norwegian women’s handball team this week.
The team were participating in the European Beach Handball Championships on Sunday, after which they were required to pay a fine of about $1,770 — or $177 per player — simply because they wore shorts.
As you can see in the photo (above), what they’re wearing is clearly appropriate athletic wear for a beach sport, but apparently International Handball Federation rules state that female players MUST compete in bikini bottoms.
The European Handball Federation confirmed the fine in an official statement, saying:
“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.”
Specifically, the rules say female players “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 centimeters on the sides.”
But… why?? Is there any legitimate reason to ask such a thing??
Here’s an example of what they’re usually require to play in btw:
It’s a lot more skin showing, that’s for sure — but functionally what does it change??
The men of the sport, as you might expect, are not require to wear bikini bottoms. While they must wear “tight-fitting tank tops,” shorts are apparently just fine for the male players, provided they are “not too baggy.” So if shorts aren’t actually a problem for the sport… it’s just sexism then??
While the rest of Europe may still be OK with the ludicrous, backward rules, at least one country wasn’t having it.
The Norwegian Handball Federation announced it would proudly pay the fine for its players — and stood behind them completely — in a post on the official Instagram page on Tuesday, writing:
“We are very proud of these girls who, during the European Championships in beach handball, raised their voices and told us that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. We in the Norwegian Handball Federation stand behind you and support you. Together we will continue to fight to change the international regulations for attire, so that players can play in the clothing they are comfortable with.”
Norway has reportedly been fighting to change the IHF clothing rule since 2006. NHF President Kare Geir Lio told Agence France-Presse on Monday:
“The most important thing is to have equipment that athletes are comfortable with.”
Darn right! Forcing women to wear anything without cause is so nakedly oppressive, we can’t believe it’s still a thing in 2021!
Will Norway’s fight actually change anything? Maybe. EHF spokesman Andrew Barringer told AFP:
“The EHF is committed to bringing 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.”
Will the other countries agree to it? Well, the women might.
Norway player Katinka Haltvik said the team chose to buck tradition because they “felt threatened by the regulations” — but also implied they aren’t the only ones:
“People cheered on us for going in front of several teams and taking the brunt. Not all teams can afford to pay such fines. [Handball] should be an inclusive sport, not an exclusive one.”
You know, we’ve always said that about handball.
[Image via National Handball Teams of Norway/Instagram.]