Athletes on the Norwegian women’s beach handball team have been fined for choosing to wear shorts, and not bikini bottoms, at a European championship match in Bulgaria.
The disciplinary action was handed down by the European Handball Federation, the governing body that requires female players to wear bikini bottoms “with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg”.
Meanwhile men can wear shorts as long as four inches above their knees – the main rule being the shorts cannot be “too baggy”.
A fine of $1,770 was given to the women’s team after their shorts were ruled “a case of improper clothing”.
Tonje Lerstad and Julie Berg, two of the players in the women’s national beach handball team, appeared on tevevison following the event, and agreed that the sport’s uniform rules were sexist and prevented many women from taking up the sport.
“We’ve just been told that this is the rule,” Lerstad said. “We want to grow this sport so everyone can feel they want to participate. Because of body insecurities, a lot of women just say, ‘No, I don’t want to do this,’ and that’s really sad.”
Berg said the support the handball team has received since has been overwhelming.
“People have been quite shocked that women today in 2021 can’t choose what they want to wear. It’s been overwhelming actually,” she said.
“If the guys can do it in a T-shirt and shorts, we should be able to do it in the exact same outfit,” Lerstad said.
The Norwegian beach handball federation said it was proud of the women for standing up for their choice to wear what they wanted.
“We at 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 added.
On their Instagram page, the Norwegian women’s team said they were thankful for the support they’ve received since they decided to wear shorts.
“We are also very proud about making a statement in the bronze final by playing in shorts instead of required bikini bottoms! We are overwhelmed by the attention and support from all over the world!”