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Norway is pushing to change the compulsory bikini bottoms rule that got its women’s handball team fined for playing in shorts

Summary List PlacementWhen the Norwegian women's beach handball team wore shorts instead of bikini bottoms at the European Championships on Sunday, it marked years of protest against a dress code the players say is degrading and sexist. The team was fined a total of €1,500 (or about $1,760 dollars) for all ten players breaking the sport's dress code at the bronze medal game, which Norway lost to Spain. For anyone curious, this is a group shot of both beach handball teams from Norway. pic.twitter.com/sJdnlsojzB — Ina Aletheia (@inaaletheia) July 18, 2021 The rules say women need to wear...

Norway team line up during 2018 Women's Beach Handball World Cup final against Greece.

Summary List Placement

When the Norwegian women’s beach handball team wore shorts instead of bikini bottoms at the European Championships on Sunday, it marked years of protest against a dress code the players say is degrading and sexist.

The team was fined a total of €1,500 (or about $1,760 dollars) for all ten players breaking the sport’s dress code at the bronze medal game, which Norway lost to Spain.

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The rules say women need to wear a “tight-fitting sports bra with deep openings at the arms” and a bottom no more than “ten centimeters on the sides.” Men can play in shorts and tanks tops.

Abid Raja, Norway’s Minister of Culture and Gender Equality, was one of the many to support the women’s team on Twitter after news of the fine, writing that the dress code rule was “completely ridiculous.”

French national coach Valérie Nicolas also backed the Norwegians, telling the Verdens Gang newspaper: “We have lost players due to the suits. The players tell me they are uncomfortable, feel naked, and watched.” 

In an interview with Insider on Tuesday, Norwegian Handball Federation President Kåre Geir Lio said that the dress code rules had been in place since around 2005.

He said Norwegian officials had been complaining about the rules to the European Handball Federation since 2006. Beach handball was started in the 1980s, and became an official sport in 2000, according to Olympics.com.

Lio told Norway’s Dagbladet newspaper that the EHF accepted a recent proposal to change the dress code regulations, which he had hoped would come into effect before the European Championships.

When the change did not come, he said, the team decided to take a bolder stance. 

“We’ve tried, in a mild way, to try and get them to understand, but this has increased year by year by year. I became president in 2016 and every summer after that I’ve been talking about this,” Lio told Insider of the dress-code issue. 

“We were told this was an issue in the beginning of the championships, that they would be prohibited to use the shorts they wanted. We decided that the girls could decide this and we will support them whatever they decide.

“They decided to first play in the bikini so that they wouldn’t get thrown out or anything like that. Then they decided that they would show their view by playing in shorts in the last game. I got the message from them 10 minutes before the match and told them we’re OK with that and we’ll pay the fine,” Lio said. 

When reached for comment by Insider on Tuesday, the EHF suggested that the rules were never going to change in time for the European Championships. 

Thomas Schöneich, director of communications for the EHF, told Insider that the topic was discussed at the EHF Congress in April.

There, he said, it was decided that the EHF’s beach handball comission would work with the Norwegians on a new rule that could be tabled at the International Handball Federation’s Congress in November. 

When asked who came up with the dress code rules, Schöneich said they came from the IHF.

Insider reached out to the IHF for more details on how the dress code rules were drafted, but did not immediately receive a response on Tuesday. 

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