Handball Federation ends ‘sexist’ bikini requirement for women
The International Handball Federation has decided to end the bikini requirement for women players. The change is in response to an international protest by female players who were uncomfortable with the outfit, which was made compulsory by the World Handball Championship organizer. The decision to end this rule will help ensure that the organization has a proper representation of women and not exclude them from participating in certain games.
On January 1, 2022, the new standards will take effect.
Norway’s women’s squad contested the previous dress code in July. Rather than the mandatory “tight fit” bikini bottoms, players wore shorts to the European Beach Handball Championships. As a result, the team was fined 1,500 euros, or $1,728.
The fine drew significant condemnation in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics. Popstar Pink offered to pay the fine, but the restrictions were deemed sexist because the men’s side was only obliged to wear shorts that were four inches above the knee.
“It’s completely ridiculous,” Norway’s Minister for Culture and Sports Abid Raja tweeted after the women’s team was fined. “What a change of attitude is needed in the macho and conservative international world of sport.”
Lene Westgaard-Halle, a Norwegian politician, asked, “Can you please stop the forced bikini nonsense at your beach handball games? It is embarrassing, disgraceful, and sexist. You are ruining both the sport and your own reputation.”
In response to the controversy, the European Handball Federation later donated the fine to a major international sports foundation dedicated to “equality for women and girls in sports.”
“The EHF acknowledges the position of the players involved and further steps towards change, in close coordination with the International Handball Federation, have been and are in motion,” Michael Wiederer, the group’s president, said in July. “We are very much aware of the attention the topic has received over the past days, and while changes cannot happen overnight, we are fully committed that something good comes out of this situation right now which is why the EHF has donated the fine for a good cause promoting equality in sports.”
At the time, the team responded on Instagram. “Babysteps. It feels so good to know that we have EHFs support, and we believe that a change is in motion,” the team said. “Thank you for all the support — you are amazing.”