Impractical, Degrading & Sexualising

Norwegian Women’s Handball Team fined for not playing in bikini bottoms.

Norwegian women’s beach handball team

The players in the Norwegian women’s beach handball team were fined on Monday over “a case of improper clothing.” The women players were punished for wearing shorts rather than bikini bottoms during a recent game in Bulgaria. Yes! That’s true. Each player of the Norwegian women’s handball team was penalised as they decided to compete in their usual training uniforms and not bikini bottoms.

The European Handball Association (EHF) has fined the 10-member squad with a fine of 150 euros (around $175) for violating international handball uniform requirements. In the efforts to protest against the rule that mandates the women’s handball team to compete in bikini bottoms, the team wore thigh-length elastic shorts during the match – shorts that are only acceptable for male handball players.

Norwegian women’s Beach Handball Team in their uniform.

According to International Handball Federation regulations, while male players are permitted to play in tank tops and shorts no longer than 4 inches above the knee, women are required to wear midriff-baring tops and bikini bottoms “with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg” and a maximum side width of 4 inches. In short, for female players, bikini bottoms are the required and a must uniform requirement.

Men’s Beach Handball Team uniform Vs Women’s Beach Handball Team uniform

Despite a strong criticism against this uniform requirement for the women’s team in Norway, the International Handball Federation in its statement has said, “All necessary efforts will be taken in order to further promote the sport. This includes the ideal presentation of the sport and that includes the outfit of the players too.”

Why the violation is gaining support?

The federation’s rule that men are allowed to wear shorts, while women can only wear bikini bottoms in itself is problematic. By not complying with the International Handball Federation’s regulations, Norway’s team is clearly standing against the presence of double standards for female athletes in the sports world.

When both male and female players work equally hard and get trained in a similar manner, the difference in their uniform doesn’t make any sense and only promotes sexualising of women in sports.

As per the Norwegian team, the bikini bottoms aren’t practical in a sport that sees players constantly diving into the sand and a sports uniform should be what players are comfortable in while playing. Apart from this, some players even believe that these rules related to uniform requirements are simply degrading to women.

Norway is supporting its players

It’s interesting to note that although the players are being fined for violating the uniform requirements, the country’s Handball Federation is supporting them. The NHF on their social media platform even supported their team by said that it is extremely proud of its women team for taking a stance against the much-criticised and controversial rule.

In fact, since 2006, the NHF has been campaigning to change the uniform requirements, but “nothing has happened yet”. Also, as per the head of the NHF, Kare Geir Lio, “Women should have the right to have a uniform they think is suitable for performing in their sport.”

Even before the championships, Norway approached the EHF to ask for permission to play in shorts but were told that breaches of the rules were punishable by fines.

The issue is now gaining momentum on social media and is receiving support from various parts of the world as it is believed that such rules are impractical, embarrassing, sexualising, and degrading to women. Also, this inequality when it comes to the uniform amongst the male and female players is not just restricted to handball but impacts other sports like Beach Volleyball and Tennis as well.

Author: Mahima Joshi

Mahima Joshi is a writer at The Wonk. She is a postgraduate in Journalism, who is just curious about everything that is happening around. She is an enthusiastic reader especially concerning gender dynamics in mythological stories.

Leave a Reply