International Handball rules allow shorts for men but bikini bottoms for women. One women’s team decided to wear shorts anyway, knowing they’d be punished.
Norway’s women’s beach handball team has been fined by the European Handball Federation Disciplinary Commission after the players refused to wear the bikini bottoms that are the federation standard.
The women wore thigh-high elastic shorts during their bronze medal match Sunday at Beach Handball EURO 2021. It was a protest against the bikini-bottom design, NBC News reports.
The EHF called it “a case of improper clothing” that violated uniform regulations. The fine was 150 euros per player for a total of 1,500 euros (about $1,766 U.S.).
According to the International Handball Federation rule book, both men’s and women’s tops need to be close-fitting. But while diagrams show the men’s top looks like a standard tank, the women’s looks more like a bikini top or sports bra that bares the midriff. T-shirts are not allowed to be worn under the tops for men or women.
As for the bottoms, men must wear shorts that are 4-inches above the knee while women must wear bikini bottoms “with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg” and a side width of no more than 4 inches. (You can see examples at this link, pages 94 and 95.)
The rulebook does not explain why the women’s uniforms are required to be different.
Norwegian Handball Federation President Kåre Geir Lio calls the women’s uniform requirement “embarrassing,” according to NBC News.
Norwegian broadcaster NRK reports that the team had been threatened with a fine and disqualification if they didn’t wear the required uniform, but they went ahead with their protest anyway.
“It was very spontaneous. We thought that “now we just do it, then we will see what happens”, Norwegian player Katinka Haltvik told NRK.
The hope, Haltvik said, is that this will lead to a rule change by next summer.
In cold weather games, tight shirts and long, tight pants are allowed, according to the rulebook.