Perhaps Varna will go down in history as the place where everything changed. Because in the Bulgarian city, headquarters in the last days of European Beach Handball Championship, the Norwegian women’s team has dared to challenge regulations that require women to compete in bikini, something that they consider discriminatory, outdated, that gratuitously sexualizes the athlete and that can even be negative for the development of this sport. The Nordic team played the match for the bronze (which was hung by the Spanish team) with tights, putting on the table the debate on this rule that the Beach volleyball, for example, it abolished at the London Olympics (after being in force in Sydney, Athens and Beijing). In that 2012 the International Boxing Association also tried that the fighters fight with skirts and shortly before the FIBA tried to imposing on female basketball players to play in tight suits, to give other examples.
“I thought these things didn’t happen anymore”, noted former Norwegian volleyball player Merita Berntsen Mol. Norway, with the support of Sweden, already protested before the dispute of this European beach handball (a spectacular sport that chose to be Olympic in 2024) and asked that whoever so wanted could play with tights, but the European Handball Federation (EHF) he stood firm by wielding the regulations. Men are required to wear “tight-fitting tank tops”. At the bottom, the norm speaks to them of “Shorts”, and, “as long as they are not too baggy,” adds the text, “they can be longer, but should be 10 centimeters above the kneecap “.
Still, the Norwegian players were willing to defy regulations and start the European without adhering to the dress code, but the pressures they were very strong. “First they told us that we would receive a fine of 50 euros per person per match, which would imply a penalty of 5,000 euros. And we answered that we agree, “explained his captain, Katinka Haltvik, to the Norwegian public broadcaster (NRK). “But then they told us that the amount could increase in each match and they threatened us with other unspecified penalties. Just before the first match they warned us that we would be disqualifiedso we met forced to play with bikini“, narrated desolate. The EHF confirmed the relative to the fines, but denies that it threatened to expel the team from the European.
The president of the Norwegian federation, Kåre Geir Lio, described as EHF reaction “embarrassing and heartbreaking”. “We would happily pay the fine if that is the point. In this the team has our full support.” Lio explained that a commission has spent years trying to modify the regulations, that it has taken several EHF congresses and that they have even had the promise that the problem would be solved, but “nothing has happened yet. “It is very sad for the players who have to deal with all this,” he laments. Norway will send a protest letter to the European federation with the support of Sweden, Denmark and France.
“We have lost players to the bikini”
Own French coach, Valérie Nicolas, assures that “if nothing has changed before the next championship”, he himself push for their players to dress however they want. “Y we will accept the consequences that this entails“Far from being a whim, Nicolas uses unappealable reasons to change those regulations.”We have lost players due to clothing. The players tell me that they do not feel comfortable, that feel naked and watched. This is a sport with a lot of movement and the bikini dulls“, says the technician, who adds:” It also means a problem regarding menstruation, not to mention religion“.
After abiding by the rule until the semi-finals, where they were eliminated by Denmark, the Norwegian players opted to play the consolation final with tights. Spain won by two sets to zero and they were left without a medal, but they achieved a much more important victory.