Norwegian officials reacted sharply Tuesday after the country’s beach handball women were fined for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms in competition.
The disciplinary commission of the European Handball Federation (EHF) on Monday fined the Norwegian team € 1,500 (1,768 US dollars) or 150 euros per player for “improper clothing” after wearing shorts in the bronze medal in the game against Spain at the European Beach Handball Championship in Varna, Bulgaria on Sunday.
“That shouldn’t be an issue in 2021,” said Norwegian volleyball association president Eirik Sordahl of the national news agency NTB.
Clothing has long been a problem in beach sports, and some female players find bikinis demeaning or impractical.
While bikinis weren’t mandatory for beach volleyball players since 2012, International Handball Federation (IHF) Rules state “Athletes must wear bikini bottoms” and these must have a “tight fit”, be “inclined towards the top of the legs” and have a side depth of no more than 10 centimeters.
Male players wear shorts.
“This is completely ridiculous,” said Norway’s Minister for Culture and Sport, Abid Raja. tweeted after Monday’s verdict. “What attitude change is required in the macho and conservative international sports world?”
Norwegian politician Lene Westgaard Hall reprimanded the IHF for the enforced bikini rule, calling it “embarrassing, shameful and sexist”.
Norway asked the EHF for permission to play in shorts in the run-up to the tournament, but was informed that violations of the rules would result in fines.
They stuck to it until their last game.
“The EHF is keen to advance this issue in the interests of its member associations, but it must also be said that the rules can only be changed at the IHF level,” said EHF spokesman Andrew Barringer in an email.
The incident isn’t the only clothing-in-sport controversy this week. Olivia Breen, a two-time Paralympic world athletics champion, said a volunteer Officials called them sprint shorts “too short and inadequate” at the English championships. An England Athletics spokesman said an investigation has been launched into the incident.