Women’s Beach Handball Team Fined for Wearing Shorts Instead of Bikini Bottoms

Players of the Norwegian women’s beach handball team were fined by the European Handball Federation (EHF) on Monday, after players wore thigh-length spandex shorts, instead of the required bikini bottoms at the European Handball Championship over the weekend.

The team was fined $1,770 – about $177 per player – for choosing to wear shorts in their bronze medal match against Spain. In a statement from its Disciplinary Commission, the EHF said the players broke the uniform requirements set forth by the International Handball Federation (IHF).

According to the IHF, “women should 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.”

While women are forced to play the sport with fully exposed midriffs and less than four inches of fabric covering their hip bones, men are allowed to compete in tank tops and shorts that measure four inches above the knee, as long as they are “not too baggy.”

Heading into Sunday’s championship, the Norwegian women said “enough is enough.” After years of pushing for the international regulations to be changed, they planned to protest the uniforms, which they say are uncomfortable and sexualizing.

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“I don’t see why we can’t play in shorts,” said Martine Welfler, one of the Norwegian players. “With so much body shaming and stuff like that these days, you should be able to wear a little bit more when you play.”

“If the guys can do it in a T-shirt and shorts, we should be able to do it in the same exact outfit,” said player Tonya Lurstaad.

Team captain Katinka Haltvik really summed it up with her statement to national broadcaster NRK: “We are forced to play with panties.”

Going into the match, the team was prepared to pay any fines that their uniform violation would bring about. But as their match against Hungary approached, the women were threatened with disqualification if they proceeded to wear the shorts.

“First we were told about a fine of 50 euros per person, per match, something that would have landed us a fine of about 4,850 euros. We accepted that”, Haltvik said. “However, just before the match we were told that we will be disqualified if we play like that. So we had to go with the bikini bottoms.”

Kare Geir Lio, head of the Norwegian Handball Federation stood in full support of the team’s protest and said the organization would pay the fine on the team’s behalf. He said Norway has repeatedly complained about the bikini bottom requirement to the international federation since 2006. “Nothing has happened.”

Women’s Sports and Double Standards 

The protest has sparked widespread conversation about the double standards and sexualization of women (and girls) in sports.

While the Norwegian beach handball team was being disciplined for wearing too much clothing over the weekend, Paralympic sprinter and long jumper, Olivia Breen, was told by an official at the English Track Championships that her briefs were “too short and revealing.”


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“I’ve worn them for nine years,” she told BBC. “I’ve never had a problem and we should feel comfortable with what we wear.”

Breen was wearing virtually the same bikini bottoms that all female beach handball players are required to wear. But when she wore them to compete in a different sport, they were deemed inappropriate.

Sexualization and Exploitation of Female Athletes 

In girls as young as elementary school, the universal volleyball uniform is skin-tight and revealing—featuring spandex booty shorts and a snug top which do absolutely nothing but highlight the butt, crotch, and chest of the young girls and women who wear them.

On Reddit, an entire community named VolleyballGirls, exists to objectify and extort young women and girls wearing volleyball uniforms.

The community’s 171 THOUSAND members are able to scroll through and contribute to a never-ending thread of photos and videos, featuring young girls sporting volleyball uniforms.

“All hail the glory of the ‘officially-sanctioned’ volleyball outfit,” the community says.

The page is littered with photos and videos that capture young girls and women in compromising positions while playing volleyball in revealing uniforms. The community’s comments and captions are beyond vulgar.

A Necessary Change

The Norwegian women’s beach handball team was fined for trying to wear MORE clothing. These women were penalized and faced disqualification for covering their butts while playing a sport that calls for intense agility and movement.

WHY is this the standard? Why are women and girls subjected to these sexist rules that have nothing to do with the sport itself? Why are the governing bodies in charge of these sports more concerned with clothing than they are with competition?

“It’s unfair. Money and fines should not be part of the discussion,” said French national team manager, Valérie Nicolas, who supported the Norwegian’s decision to protest.

Nicolas emphasized that changes in regulation are absolutely necessary.

“We have lost players due to the suits. The players tell me they are uncomfortable, feel naked, and watched. It is a sport with a lot of movement and you are hindered by the bikini. There is also discomfort associated with menstruation, and not least religion,” he explained.

The Norwegian women’s beach handball team didn’t make it to the finals at the European Championships over the weekend, but they did find victory in the resounding support and calls for change from people around the globe. The team pioneered change, and put a global spotlight on the unfair, and sexist standards female athletes are held to.

Bri Lamm
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Bri is an outgoing introvert with a heart that beats for adventure. She lives to serve the Lord, experience the world, and eat macaroni and cheese in between capturing life’s greatest moments on one of her favorite cameras.