Search icon


11th Aug 2021

Handball chiefs urged to resign over ‘blatant sexism’ of bikini bottoms rule

Charlie Herbert

The Norwegian women’s beach handball team was fined €1,500 for wearing shorts during a European Championships match.

Associations from across the world of women’s sport have called on the presidents of both the international and European handball federations to resign over “blatant sexism.”

The Norway women’s beach handball team decided to wear shorts during a European Beach Handball Championships match against Spain in Varna, Bulgaria, on 19 July. This was in protest against rules that require female players to wear bikini bottoms for matches.

They were subsequently fined €1,500 (£1,270) for the rule break.

In a statement on the incident, the European Handball Federation (EHF) said that the team had been disciplined because of “improper clothing.”

In a later statement, the EHF said that the matter of players’ uniforms would be discussed during a commission meeting in August,

The fine equated to €150 per player, but was paid for by the Norwegian Handball Federation. In a bizarre turn of event, popstar Pink then offered to pay the fine for the team.

The rule in question states that female players playing beach handball must wear “tops and bikini bottoms and eventual accessories,” while male players wear “tank tops and shorts and eventual accessories.”

Now, seven women’s sport associations from across Europe have written to the International Handball Federation (IHF) president, Hassan Moustafa, and EHF president, Michael Wiederer, calling for them to resign.

The letter, which has been signed off by associations from France, Germany and Italy amongst others, says that both the EHF and the IHF have “established an embarrassing point of no return regarding their image as international sports institutions.”

Luisa Rizzitelli is the president of Assist, an Italian association that promotes and defends the rights of female athletes. According to the Guardian, she said: “This is a blatantly sexist custom that needs to be eliminated.”

Rizzitelli said that the IHF’s clothing requirements “shouldn’t mean exploiting the body of a woman,” and described their confirmation of the €1,500 fine as “a shameful thing.”

The IHF have said that a proposal for new uniforms and change to clothing rules could be presented to the body’s council in November.