The Norwegian women's beach handball team was fined on Monday by the European Handball Association (EHA) for wearing shorts instead of the prescribed bikini bottoms during their bronze medal game against Spain on Sunday. The team was competing for third place on the podium in the EHA-organised European Beach Handball Championship.
According to the regulations dictated by the International Handball Federation(IHF), 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. The team was fined by the EHF on grounds of "Improper clothing".
Speaking to NBC News, Norwegian Handball Federation President Kåre Geir Lio said "It's not [appropriate clothing for] the activity when they are playing in the sand".
"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 added.
The Norwegian team apparently, was fully aware of the rules and were protesting against the prescribed outfits for women. They had petitioned for the rule to be modified but the EHA threatened that they might be fined or even disqualified for failing to abide by the regulations.
Come their last game of the tournament facing Spain for the bronze medal, the team decided to retaliate and wore thigh-length elastic shorts instead of bikini bottoms.
Norway's beach handball team fined for not wearing bikini bottoms, sparking outrage: "Embarrassing, disgraceful and sexist" https://t.co/QrqMLmEyw1— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 20, 2021
While speaking to The New York Times, a spokeswoman for the IHF said "We are looking into it internally". She went on to add that Norway was the only country that complained officially. "Globally we know that other countries like to play in bikinis, for example, especially in South America," she said.
One of the Norwegian players expressed her outrage after the game. "I don't see why we can't play in shorts," said Martine Welfler. "With so much body shaming and stuff like that these days, you should be able to wear a little bit more when you play."
Each player from the team was fined €150 (about $177 or 13175 INR) with total fine accounting for almost €1,500.
It remains to be seen how the IHF proceeds in its investigation. Such a trivial topic cannot become the reason for players refusing to play. This is not the first time women have protested playing in skimpy attire. Hence, a decision from IHF is much awaited.