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Athletes from the Norwegian women’s beach handball team are punished for wearing shorts rather than bikini bottoms in a recent match, with the European Handball Federation fining them for “one case of inappropriate clothing”.
The federation’s disciplinary commission imposed a fine of 150 euros per player (around $ 175) on the 10-member team. In a joint statement with the International Handball Federation, officials said “every effort will be made to further promote the sport. This includes the ideal presentation of the sport and thereby the attire of the players.”
The Norwegian team have warned European Championship officials in advance that they will wear shorts rather than bikini bottoms when they face Spain in a bronze medal match on Sunday. The Norwegians lost that game but they also said they were proud to make a statement playing in shorts or bikini bottoms.
“We are overwhelmed by the attention and support from all over the world! Said the team. “We really hope this will lead to a change in this absurd rule!” ” he added.
Norway supports its players.
“Of course we would pay any fine,” Norwegian Handball Federation president Kare Geir Lio told Agence France-Presse. “We are all in the same boat.”
“It’s an important battle, and I’m very proud to be a part of it,” said Norwegian Martine Welfler, welcoming the support her team has received. “This positive feedback is insane and I can’t believe it to be honest.”
Why the Norwegian team opposes bikini bottoms
The Norwegian team say bikini bottoms are impractical in a sport that constantly sees players diving into the sand. Some also said the demands were downright degrading for women.
The rules and regulations of the International Handball Federation require that men wear shorts that do not fall more than 10 centimeters (about 4 inches) above their knees. But the rules for women are more precise, and revealing:
“Female athletes must wear bikini bottoms… with a close-fitting cut and a cut that slants upwards towards the top of the leg,” the rules state. “The side width should be a maximum of 10 centimeters.”
Beach handball is a relatively new sport. In the sphere of the Olympic Games, it is only included in the Youth Olympic Games. But it has grown in popularity since the formal rules of the sport were drawn up in the 1980s. It shares the same pitch layout as beach volleyball – another sport that has come under intense scrutiny to compel players. female athletes to wear revealing bikini bottoms while male athletes compete in shorts.
European and global governing bodies suggest that the outcry over bikini bottoms is mainly due to fake news.
“From a European point of view, the reaction is based on disinformation about the procedure,” said the federations. “The position of the actors involved is recognized and other steps… are underway.”
The federations note that Norway had tabled a motion to discuss the possibility for women to wear shorts in April. Since then, they say, the country’s federation has not presented a separate motion.
The uniforms of female athletes will be a central topic for the new beach handball commission, which will hold its first meeting next month, the European and international federations said.