European countries take action over 'ridiculous' bikini bottoms rule

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Norway's beach handball team, pictured here at the European championships.
Norway's beach handball team were forced to wear bikini bottoms. Image: Twitter

The Sports Ministers from five European countries have written a joint letter to the International Handball Federation urging them to update archaic dress regulations that sparked controversy earlier this year.

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 opted to wear shorts in their bronze medal match against Spain, however rules set by the International Handball Federation require female athletes to wear bikini bottoms.

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).

According to the regulations: “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 10 centimetres on the sides.”

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

This week, the Sports Ministers from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland wrote to the International Handball Federation to urge them to review the rules and "to allow athletes to be dressed in a way that suits performance and comfort”.

“We emphasise the need for action not only to accommodate current female athletes, but also to support and encourage all athletes regardless of their gender or background to remain in sport,” the letter said.

Danish Sports Minister Ane Halsboe-Joergensen said: “The claim is obsolete, and one would think it belonged to another century.

“I also have a hard time seeing what sporting reasons should be behind female athletes having to play in a bikini.”

World in shock over 'ridiculous' bikini bottoms furore

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

“So then we are forced to play with panties. It is so embarrassing,” she 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.”

The Norwegian team, pictured here wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms.
The Norwegian team wearing their shorts instead of bikini bottoms. Image: Instagram

France's team manager said her players had expressed similar reservations about wearing 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.”

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova was among those left fuming, tweeting: “That is just ridiculous”, while Pink wrote: “I’m VERY proud of the Norwegian female beach handball team FOR PROTESTING THE VERY SEXIST RULES ABOUT THEIR ‘uniform’.

“The European handball federation SHOULD BE FINED FOR SEXISM. Good on ya, ladies. I’ll be happy to pay your fines for you. Keep it up.”

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