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Social Media Storm Erupts After Norway's Women's Handball Team Fined For Not Wearing Bikinis

Norwegian beach handball team
© Photo : Norway’s Handball Federation

The issue of women's skimpy clothes is hotly contested in sports and beach handball is not the only sport, where women are required to wear bikinis. Beach volleyball is quite popular for the revealing outfits of competing women's teams too.

After the Norwegian women's beach handball team was fined $1,700 due to their refusal to wear bikini bottoms, opting to wear shorts instead, Twitterati slammed the European Handball Federation (EHF) for being "misogynistic" and "sexist". Each Norwegian player received a fine of $177.

On the other hand, some social media users called the rules archaic, while others declared the situation "awkward".

​The punitive measures from the EHF came after Norway's team decided to wear thigh-length elastic shorts in their bronze medal match against Spain during the Euro 2021 tournament in Bulgaria to protest the sport's stringent regulations.

The rules mandate women participants wear bikinis during their matches, unlike men, who are allowed to wear shorts in competitions.

In a statement released to the media on Tuesday, the EHF said that it was dealing with "a case of improper clothing" as the uniforms of the women were "not according to the Athlete Uniform Regulations defined in the IHF Beach Handball Rules of the game".

After the EHF was criticised for its move to impose fines on Norway's team, Thomas Schoeneich, a spokesman for the organisation, said it was only implementing the rules laid out in the International Handbook Federation (IHF).

"Change can only happen on an International Handball Federation level", Schoeneich said in a statement on Tuesday.

According to the IHF's rules, women are required to wear bikinis "with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg".

The sides of the bikini bottoms cannot exceed more than four inches. Unlike women, men are allowed to wear shorts that are more than four inches long, but they shouldn't be "too baggy".

The Norwegian side didn't commit the act unknowingly, rather the team's players wanted to highlight the double standards for female athletes in sports.

Their decision to flout the rules in their bronze medal match was also backed by Kare Geir Lio, the president of the Norwegian Handball Federation (NHF), who said the organisation had been raising its voice against the discriminatory rule since 2006.

He further stated that he was proud of the Norwegian team and the organisation will pay the fine on behalf of its players.

"We at the NHF stand behind you and support you. Together we will continue to fight to change the rules for clothing so that players can play in the clothes they are comfortable with", the federation wrote on Twitter.

When reporters asked if the international federation has done anything to curb the discriminatory practice, Lio responded: "Nothing has happened".

"Women should have the right to have a uniform they think is suitable for performing in their sport", Lio added.

Norwegian player Martine Welfler also slammed the authorities for levying fines on her and her teammates.

"I don't see why we can't play in shorts. With so much body shaming and stuff like that these days, you should be able to wear a little bit more when you play", she told the international media on Tuesday.

Welfler claimed that there were players in her country who weren't interested in participating in international tournaments because of these outdated uniform rules.

"That's really sad because maybe the best players won't participate", she added.

As per Welfler, female players were sick and tired of being scrutinised for their skimpy outfits. She argued that revealing clothes were not good for the sport as the attention of the fans has always been more on their bodies, rather than their game.

Unlike international events, players are allowed to wear shorts in Norway's domestic tournaments.

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