In a controversy that seems a little too on-the-nose as an illustration of sexist double standards in athletic wear, the Norwegian women’s beach handball team was hit with a fine of 1,500 euros ($1,767) for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms at the Beach Handball Euro 2021 tournament last weekend in Varna, Bulgaria.
The team went into the match knowing that their uniforms were not up to handball skimpiness code and would be fined 150 euros ($177) per person, having been denied permission by the European Handball Federation (EFH) to play in shorts. The EHF cited the violation of a uniform regulation in the International Handball Federation (IHF) rulebook, which states that women must wear midriff tops and bikini bottoms “with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg” and sides measuring no more than about four inches. Men’s uniforms, meanwhile, consist of tank tops and shorts that end four inches above the knee.
A spokesperson for the IHF told the New York Times that she didn’t know the reason for the rule, but added that “other countries like to play in bikinis, for example, especially in South America,” seemingly insinuating that the Norwegian players are prudes compared to the fun-loving, skin-baring ladies of South America. Weird comms strategy, but hey, whatever helps them sleep at night knowing they’re standing in the way of true gender parity.