Handball players will no longer have to wear bikini bottoms


The Norwegian team lines up during the 2018 Women’s Beach Handball World Cup final against Greece on July 29, 2018 in Kazan, Russia.

Ilnar Tukhbatov / Epsilon / Getty Images

Remember this summer when players of the Norwegian women’s handball team were fined to wear shorts rather than the required bikini bottoms?

The battle between the team and handball’s governing body has sparked a global conversation about the sexualization of women in sport.

And now that has sparked the change as well.

The International Handball Federation has revised its uniform rules, saying players must wear “a fitted tank top, short and tight pants and possible accessories”. The new regulations were published on October 3 and will come into effect on January 1.

Previously, women were required to wear bikini bottoms “fitted and cut at an upward angle up the leg” with a side width of no more than 4 inches. (Male players’ shorts do not need to be “fitted” like women’s shorts, but they should not exceed 4 inches above the knee.)

The rule change is an apparent victory for Norway’s women’s beach handball team, after months of controversy.

Players told the European Handball Federation in July they would wear shorts rather than bikini bottoms in a league game against Spain – claiming the bottoms were impractical in a sport that requires of diving into the sand and calling the demands degrading for women.

Each member of the 10-person team was fined 150 euros, or about $ 175. American singer P! Nk offered to cover costs at the time, although the federation declared he donated the money to a “major international sports foundation that supports the equality of women and girls in sport”.

He added that he would “do everything possible to influence a change in the regulation of beach handball uniforms,” ​​but that any formal decision rests with the international governing body, or IHF.

In open letter, 5 countries urged IHF to review uniform policies

IHF said in july that he appreciated the comments he had heard following the Norwegian team’s protest, but that he could not change any uniform requirements without going through a thorough approval process.

He explained that IHF commissions and working groups are traditionally responsible for evaluating beach handball regulations before each IHF congress and that a working group is already reviewing equipment and uniforms.

“Although alternatives to the current uniform have already been studied and developed by the IHF Beach Handball Working Group, the IHF cannot make a decision without also analyzing the implementation procedure and several steps must be taken to implement new rules, ”he said.

In September, the sports ministers of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland drafted a open letter to the IHF, urging it to review its uniform policies “in accordance with gender equality”.

The rule change will be officially presented at the IHF Congress in Turkey next week before going into effect in January.

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