Big trouble in bikini bottoms | Norwegian handball controversy

This week in another open display of bizarrely acceptable sexism, athletes on the Norwegian women’s beach handball team are being punished for wearing shorts, rather than bikini bottoms. Yes, you read that correctly. In 2021, the European Handball Federation issued fines over a “case of improper clothing”.

Here’s a picture I found of the committee. Notice anything?

Norwegian athletes fined for wearing shorts

The federation’s disciplinary commission imposed a fine of 15 euros per player on the 10-member squad. In a joint statement with the International Handball Federation, so-called officials said that:

“All efforts will be taken in order to further promote the sport. This includes the ideal presentation of the sport and, by that, includes the outfit of the players.”

In other words, the ideal presentation of the sport is bikini bottoms for women, because… well, please see picture of the board while I bash my head against a wall.

Norway’s team warned officials at the European Beach Handball Championship that their athletes would be wearing shorts, rather than bikini bottoms in their game against Spain on Sunday. Although the team lost, they said they were proud to be make a statement by eschewing their sexist attire, to play in shorts instead;

“We are overwhelmed by the attention and support from all over the world! We really hope this will result in a change of this nonsense rule!”

Why the team don’t want to wear bikini bottoms

The Norwegian team simply don’t think it’s practical to wear bikini bottoms in a sport that constantly sees people diving into the sand. Or, let’s be honest, any sport that requires a lot of running, jumping, diving and movement at all, really. 

Some have also made the glaringly obvious statement that the women’s outfit requirements are simply degrading. 

No shit. Here’s what the male team wear.

The International Handball Federations R&Rs require men to wear shorts that fall no longer than 10 centimeters above the knee. But the rules of women are far more specific, revealing and frankly, fucking creepy:

“Female athletes must wear bikini bottoms … with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg…The side width must be of a maximum of 10 centimeters.”

Beach handball is a relatively new sport, with formal rules being devised in 1980, which I think might be an attempt at justifying the blatant sexism in the sport. But, you’d think in four whole decades, the sport would have at least attempted to implement some form of change.

Luckily, the whole of Norway is backing its players, alongside an overwhelming chunk of the internet. Norwegian Handball Federation President, Kare Gare Lio told Agence France-Presse:

“Of course we would pay any fine. We are all in the same boat.”

Martine Welfler, a player on the Norwegian women’s handball squad said:

“This is an important battle, and I’m very proud to be a part of this. This positive feedback is insane and I can’t believe it, to be honest.”

It’s nothing short of sexism, but apparently the issue with bikini bottoms is fake news

The Norwegian team want to wear shorts instead of bikini bottoms.

The European and world governing bodies – in a move that shouldn’t really surprise anyone, given the fact they make women wear underwear while playing sports – genuinely believe that the uproar over the bikini bottoms is fake news. 

Seriously. Only a board made up entirely of middle aged, balding white men would cry ‘fake news’:

“From a European perspective, the reaction is based on disinformation on the procedure. The positions of the players involved are acknowledged and further steps… are in motion.”

The federations noted that Norway filed a motion to discuss allowing their women players to wear shorts back in April. Since then, apparently, the country’s federation has not brought a separate notion forward – like that’s somehow important and helps them make their point? 

Female athletes’ uniforms will be a central topic for the newly established Beach Handball Commission, which will hold its first meeting next month, the European and international federations said.

Which is, I guess, a positive step in the right direction… But, I’m going to assume that any changes made will still be a step in the wrong direction.

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