June 1, 2023

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It’s okay for men to wear shorts to play beach handball. However, when women do the same, they must be fined! This is the message emanating from European Handball Federation (EHF), who on Wednesday announced a fine of 1,500 euros on Norway’s women’s beach handball team over their choice to wear shorts instead of bikinis to play their bronze medal match against Spain on Sunday, 18th July 2021.

Though the decision by the Norwegian women was met with a thunderous applause by the crowd which watched the game on Sunday, the EHF described the act as a violation of laid down rules of the International Handball Federation and “improper clothing.” It’s somewhat bizzare that an outfit which is more or less nude, is termed proper by the EHF while attempts to appear decent is tagged as “improper clothing.”

KAZAN, RUSSIA – JULY 29: Norway team line up during 2018 Women’s Beach Handball World Cup final against Greece on July 29, 2018 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Ilnar Tukhbatov/Epsilon/Getty Images)

The decision by the EHF to fine the Norwegian women comes as a huge discouragement to the efforts and gains made in civil and human rights agitation especially with the recent widely publicized act of ‘taking a knee’ to stamp out discrimination, epitomized by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

It is disturbing for anyone, let alone a governing body of a sport in this modern era, to still retain a dress code that places men above women.

It’s also a smack of double standards that while some activists in sports are canvassing for equality between men and women, yet women are treated differently and condemned to wear bikinis in beach handball compared to their male counterparts.

Team captain Katinka Haltvik and Kare Geir Lio, the head of Norway’s Handball Federation have also voiced support for the outfit worn by their team in the bronze medal match, stating that bikinis aren’t ideal for women in the game.

On closer look, it’s wrong for the EHF to define the actions of the Norwegian beach handball team as a violation of rules. A fine is even more sinister and absurd.

At best, the ladies’ bravery should earn a commendation and engender drastic changes to such archaic discriminatory rules against women.

If men and women in basketball, football and many other sports dress alike, why should beach handball be different?

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