Women’s handball team hit with ‘improper clothing’ fine after rejecting bikini bottoms for shorts

Norway’s women’s handball team found themselves hit with a fine over their choice of clothing during a game with Spain, and many are saying it’s completely unwarranted.

The European Handball Federation acknowledged a $1,770 fine after the team wore shorts instead of bikini bottoms at the European Beach Handball Championships game against Spain. According to the official rulebook, bikini bottoms are required to be worn while the women are competing.

“The Disciplinary Commission at the Beach Handball EURO 2021 has dealt with a case of improper clothing,” the federation said in a statement acknowledging the incident. “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.”

In an Instagram post on the matter, Norway’s Handball Federation explained that it would pay the fine and would continue to fight alongside the women who would like to be able to wear more “comfortable” clothing while competing.

“We are very proud of these girls who are at the European Championships in beach handball,” read 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.”

Norwegian Handball Federation President Kare Geir Lio reiterated the group’s stance to Agence France-Presse, saying: “The most important thing is to have equipment that athletes are comfortable with.” According to reports, the IHF has been attempting to get the uniform rules changed since 2006. As it currently stands, female athletes must 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.”

In 2012, the International Volleyball Federation updated the rules, and the 2021 Olympians can wear bikinis, one-piece bathing suits, shorts and T-shirts as they see fit.

Discussing the decision to buck the status quo and wear shorts, Norway’s Katinka Haltvik explained that it was “spontaneous” and the result of some competitors feeling “threatened by the regulations.” She lamented that the current rules are “exclusive.”

“People cheered on us for going in front of several teams and taking the brunt. Not all teams can afford to pay such fines,” she opined. “[Handball] should be an inclusive sport, not an exclusive one.”

Social media users expressed their opinions on the matter, and they were varied. Some argued that rules are meant to be followed, while others asserted that the regulations exploited women and treated athletes like sex objects:

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