Norway’s women’s beach handball team wore long elastic shorts when competing against Spain during the Euro 2021 tournament. As a result, they were fined $1700 for breaking the sport’s dress code. International Handball Federation codes mandate that women wear tops with a bare midriff, and revealing bikini bottoms that are “cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg.”
When playing in Norwegian competitions or while training, the players are allowed to wear whatever makes them feel comfortable. The dress code comes into play during competitions overseen by the International Handball Federation.
The mandated bikini bottoms are uncomfortable to wear in the sand, and many players feel sexualized wearing the unnecessarily revealing outfits. Other leaders in the industry view the dress code as unnecessary and outdated– especially when the men’s team is permitted to wear full-length tops and shorts during competitions.
Norwegian Handball Federation President Kåre Geir Lio stood in solidarity with the team, which petitioned the dress code in the past. Lio shared with NBC News, “I got a message 10 minutes before the match that they would wear the clothing that they were satisfied with. And they got our full support.”
Many took to Twitter to show their support for the team, comparing the photo of the men’s competition outfits to the women’s ones. Lene Westgaard-Halle, a Norwegian politician wrote: “It is embarrassing, disgraceful and sexist. You are ruining both the sport and your own reputation.”
One player, Katinka Haltvik, shared with NRK, a Norwegian broadcaster, that some players fear that the uncomfortable dress code causes the sport to be very exclusive. She said, “It shouldn’t be the case that people don’t want to take part because of the outfit.”
Haltvik also explained that the team’s decision to protest the dress code was a spontaneous one made right before the game. In spite of the penalty they faced, members of the team seem satisfied with their decision.
In an Instagram post, the team stood by its decision, writing, “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! Thank you so much to all the people who support us and help spread the message! We really hope this will result in a change of this nonsense rule!”