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Norway beach handball team ditches bikini bottoms after feeling ‘sexualized’ despite potential sanctions for defying rules

Norway beach handball team ditches bikini bottoms after feeling ‘sexualized’ despite potential sanctions for defying rules
A 'panties crisis' appears to have broken out in beach handball after the Norwegian women's team defied the rules and wore shorts for their European Championship bronze medal game at the weekend.

Believing that the bikini bottoms were too revealing, while making them feel unnecessarily sexualized and uncomfortable on their periods, they wanted to star in shorts instead at the competition in Varnia, Bulgaria. 

Threatened with punishment from officials if anything more than a specified amount of their behinds were covered, they were even willing to pay any forthcoming fines.

"Women should wear a bikini where the top should be a tight-fitting sports bra with deep openings at the arms," state the international regulations.

"The bottom must not be more than ten centimeters on the sides."

Yet as their opening game against Hungary drew closer, matters complicated, as explained by Katinka Haltvik to national broadcaster NRK.

"So then we are forced to play with panties. It is so embarrassing," she said. 

"First we were told about a fine of 50 ($58) per person per match, something that would have landed us a fine of about 4,850 ($5,700). We accepted that," said Haltvik.

"However, just before the match we were told that we will be disqualified if we play like that. So we had to go with the bikini bottoms."

In its defense, the European Handball Federation EHF stressed it had merely clarified its list of penalties to the Norwegian Federation, and claimed that disqualification had never been an option.

"It’s so – we are happy to pay the fine if that was what it was about," Norwegian Handball Federation boss Kare Geir Lio told NHK.

"We have contacted them and worked for this for several years. We have raised it at the Congress and we have been promised that this will be sorted out. Still, nothing happens.

"It’s just sad for the ladies to have to deal with this," he finished.

And while Norway did not make it to the final contested by neighbors Denmark and won by Germany, they took a further stance by wearing the shorts after all in the bronze match they lost against Spain in Bulgaria.

Their handball federation offering to pay fines if forthcoming, the move won the praise of some onlookers online.

"Bravo to the Norwegian team. Would be great to see all the teams change in solidarity," remarked one.

"Fantastic! I'm so pleased they wore them in protest. If all the teams do this surely the IHF won't have a leg to stand on. It's pure sexism and time for change," said another.

"Extremely sensible decision and quite dated for the western world," it was also pointed out.

Lio has vowed that Sweden, Denmark, Norway and France will collaborate in a letter aimed at bringing about the regulatory change, with the latter's national team manager Valerie Nicolas voicing her support.

"We have lost players due to the suits. The players tell me they are uncomfortable, feel naked, and watched. It is a sport with a lot of movement and you are hindered by the bikini," Nicolas said to Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang.

"There is also discomfort associated with menstruation and not least religion."

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