Norway is backing its players.
“Of course we would pay any fine,” Norwegian Handball Federation President Kare Geir Lio told Agence France-Presse. “We are all in the same boat.”
“This is an important battle, and I’m very proud to be a part of this,” Norway’s Martine Welfler said as she welcomed the support her team has received. “This positive feedback is insane and I can’t believe it to be honest.”
The Norwegian team said the bikini bottoms aren’t practical in a sport that constantly sees players diving into the sand. Some have also said the requirements are simply degrading to women.
The International Handball Federation’s rules and regulations require men to wear shorts that fall no longer than 10 centimeters (about 4 inches) above their knees. But the rules for women are more specific, and revealing:
“Female athletes must wear bikini bottoms … with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg,” the rules state. “The side width must be of a maximum of 10 centimeters.”
Beach handball is a relatively new sport. In the Olympics sphere, it’s included only in the Youth Olympic Games. But it has grown in popularity since formal rules for the sport were devised in the 1980s. It shares the same court configuration as beach volleyball — another sport that is under scrutiny for requiring female athletes to wear revealing bikini bottoms while male athletes compete in shorts
The European and world governing bodies are suggesting that the uproar over the bikini bottoms is due to, essentially, fake news.
“From a European perspective, the reaction is based on disinformation on the procedure,” the federations said. “The position of the players involved is acknowledged and further steps … are in motion.”
The federations noted that Norway filed a motion to discuss allowing women to wear shorts in April. Since then, they said, the country’s federation has not brought a separate motion forward.
Female athletes’ uniforms will be a central topic for the newly established Beach Handball Commission, which will hold its first meeting next month, the European and international federations said.