In the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics, governing bodies in charge of setting rules for competition have received criticism on a variety of issues, from drug policies to permitted apparel to rules addressing political demonstrations. Now, another international competition, a EURO 2021 tournament, has come under fire for limiting what female athletes can wear.
Tweets over the past week, some shared hundreds of times and others shared thousands of times, said the Norwegian beach volleyball team was fined for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms during a match. Data from Google Trends shows searches related to the Norwegian volleyball team were up on July 20.
Was the Norwegian women's beach volleyball team fined for wearing shorts?
No, the Norwegian women's beach volleyball team was not fined for wearing shorts during a match. It was the women's beach handball team.
WHAT WE FOUND
The Norway beach handball team, not the beach volleyball team, wore shorts during a bronze medal match on July 18 at the Beach Handball EURO 2021 tournament.
Following the match, the Disciplinary Commission of the tournament imposed a fine of 150 euros, about $176, per player for a total team fine of 1,500 euros, nearly $1,800. The commission said the fine was for “improper clothing.”
According to the rules of the International Handball Federation, “The Beach Handball female player’s uniform consists of tops and bikini bottoms and eventual accessories.” Furthermore, the rules state: “Female athletes must wear bikini bottoms that are in accordance with the enclosed graph, with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg. The side width must be of a maximum of 10 centimetres [sic].”
Those rules are different from international beach volleyball rules, which allow female athletes to wear shorts.
On July 20, the Norway beach handball team supported its athletes in an Instagram post, saying it hopes the act of defiance will result in change:
“We are also very proud about making a statement in the bronze final by playing in shorts instead of required bikini bottoms! We are overwhelmed by the attention and support from all over the world! Thank you so much to all the people who support us and help spread the message! We really hope this will result in a change of this nonsense rule!”
The European Handball Federation (EHF) says the matter of female uniforms was discussed at a conference in April 2021 “upon a motion of the Norwegian Handball Federation.” The EHF said all member federations, including the Norwegian Handball Federation, decided the topic would be tabled until a newly elected Beach Handball Commission meets in August. Once that meeting happens, suggestions on uniform changes can be presented to the International Handball Federation (IHF).
“As the IHF is the competent body for the worldwide valid regulations, it has to be stated that such a motion has to be addressed to the IHF Council due to formal reasons,” the EHF said. “The contact with the International Handball Federation has already been established and the further procedure laid down. EHF President, Michael Wiederer and IHF President, Dr. Hassan Moustafa agreed on the next steps and assure the beach handball community, and all its fans, that all efforts will be taken in order to further promote the sport. This includes the ideal presentation of the sport and, by that, includes the outfit of the players.”