International Handball Federation scraps 'disgusting' bikini rule

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
The Norwegian beach handball team, pictured here wearing bikini bottoms.
The Norwegian beach handball team refused to wear bikini bottoms. Image: Instagram

The International Handball Federation has scrapped a controversial rule requiring female athletes to wear bikini bottoms after uproar around the world.

In July, the Norwegian women's team was fined approximately $2400 at the European Beach Handball Championships after players wore shorts instead of bikini bottoms.

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The players decided to wear shorts in their bronze medal match against Spain, contravening rules set by the International Handball Federation requiring female athletes to wear bikini bottoms "with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg".

The European Handball Federation said the shorts were "not according to the athlete uniform regulations defined in the IHF beach handball rules of the game" and the 10 members of the team were each fined 150 euros ($240).

The controversy sparked outrage around the world, with the Sports Ministers from five European countries writing a joint letter to the International Handball Federation recently to urge them to update the archaic dress regulations.

On Monday, the IHF bowed to pressure and scrapped the controversial mandate.

The new wording by the governing body now allows women to wear “short tight pants” instead of bikinis.

The rule will come into effect in January next year.

According to NBC News, Norwegian Handball Federation president Kåre Geir Lio and IHF President Hassan Moustafa held behind-the-scenes meetings at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo to discuss the rule.

"I think it’s good for the game, but first of all, it’s good for the women, and it’s good for how we treat each other in sports," Lio told NBC News on Monday.

The Norwegian beach handball team, pictured here wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms.
The Norwegian beach handball team wore shorts instead of bikini bottoms. Image: Twitter

Worldwide outrage over archaic bikini bottoms rule

The controversy made worldwide headlines and sparked widespread condemnation, with pop star Pink even offering to pay the athletes' fines.

"I'm very proud of the Norwegian female beach handball team for protesting the very sexist rules about their 'uniform'," she tweeted.

"The European Handball Federation should be fined for sexism. Good on ya, ladies. I'll be happy to pay for your fines. Keep it up."

In July, Norway's Minister for Culture and Sports tweeted: “It’s completely ridiculous.

“What a change of attitude is needed in the macho and conservative international world of sport.”

The team had worn bikini bottoms in every game prior to the bronze medal match because they'd been threatened with disqualification.

However they decided to take a stand in their final match.

“So then we are forced to play with panties. It is so embarrassing,” the team captain said.

“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 ($AU7760).

"We accepted that. 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.”

France's team manager said her players were also unhappy about being forced to wear bikini bottoms.

“We have lost players due to the suits,” Valerie Nicolas told newspaper Verdens Gang.

“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.”

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