Bosses at the international and European handball federations have been called on to resign over the “blatant sexism” after a women’s team was fined for not wearing bikini bottoms.
Earlier this year, the Norwegian women’s beach handball team made headlines when they chose to wear shorts in protest against the sport’s uniform rules during the European Beach Handball Championships.
They were handed a €1,500 ($1,760.90) fine for their “improper clothing” leading to outrage over the outdated dress code.
The fine, which equated to €150 for each player, was paid for by the Norwegian Handball Federation, which had previously made an official complaint against the bikini bottoms rule.
In a letter to the two federations, 7 European women’s sport associations have demanded the resignation ion the IHF and the EHF chiefs, accusing them of “embarrassing” international handball and tarnishing the image of the sport.
The associations wrote to IHF president Hassan Moustafa and his EHF counterpart Michael Wiederer to say the decision to enforce the bikini bottoms rule “established an embarrassing point of no return regarding their image as international sports institutions.”
“This is a blatantly sexist custom that needs to be eliminated,” said Luisa Rizzitelli, president of Italian women’s sports organization Assist.
According to the IHF rule, 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”.
Rizzitelli said the IHF’s clothing requirements “shouldn’t mean exploiting the body of a woman”, adding: “Not only did they not immediately drop the rule [after the incident with Norway], but they confirmed the fine – that’s the shameful thing.”
When asked for a statement by the Guardian the IHF said it was committed to making the sport “more diverse and inclusive”, and said it had been in the process of evaluating beach handball rules “including the equipment and uniforms” prior to the controversy.