News and Commentary

Norway Female Handball Team Protests Bikini Bottoms. Their Social Media Photos Are Something Different.
Norway beach handball
Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

This week, members of the Norwegian female handball team were fined by the Disciplinary Committee of the European Handball Federation (EHF) for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms in their bronze-medal match loss to Spain at the European Beach Handball Championship in Bulgaria on Sunday.

“Ahead of the tournament, Norway asked the EHF for permission to play in shorts but were told that breaches of the rules were punishable by fines. They complied, until their last match,” CBS News reported.

Martine Welfler, one of the Norwegian players stated, “I don’t see why we can’t play in shorts,” The New York Times reported. “With so much body shaming and stuff like that these days, you should be able to wear a little bit more when you play.” Players Tonya Lurstaad and Julia Bird, appearing on “Lorraine,” said, “We wanted to make a statement and change the regulation.”

Abid Raja, Norway’s Minister for Culture and Sports, called the fine “completely ridiculous,” the Daily Mail noted, adding, “What a change of attitude is needed in the macho and conservative international world of sport.” Kare Geir Lio, the head of the Norwegian Handball Federation, said Norway had complained about the bikini bottom requirement since 2006, adding, “Nothing has happened.”

Norwegian politician Lena Westgaard-Halle tweeted, “Can you please stop the forced bikini nonsense at your beach handball games? It is embarrassing, disgraceful and sexist. You are ruining both the sport and your own reputation.”

Yet many of the players have posted numerous photos of themselves on social media in revealing bikinis, as The Daily Mail reported with some of the photos:

Susanne Denise Pettersen, 25, shared a snap from an idyllic pool in Skein, Norway … Martine Welfler 29, … in Thailand’s  Phi Phi Islands shows her in a black bikini on a pier in front of a luscious mountainous backdrop. Elisabeth Hammerstad, 28, … has shared pictures splashing in the sea in a tiny two-piece … In another the star player clutched a glass in a hot tub while surrounded by friends, saying it was one of “thousands” she took.   Thea Granlund, 26, from Oslo, has shared snaps … One shows her in a matching black two-piece while in another she’s shown on in a red bandeau and string bottom … Thina Helene Kolås Øyesvold has also shared sunbathing snaps …

“International Handball Federation (IHF) rules state ‘female athletes must wear bikini bottoms’ and that these must have ‘a close fit,’ be ‘cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg’ and a side depth of no more than 10 centimeters,” CBS News reported.

On Tuesday, Jessica Rockstroh, a spokeswoman for the International Handball Federation (IHF), said the organization was focused on the Olympics, acknowledging that Norway was the only country that officially complained about the bikinis. She asserted, “Globally we know that other countries like to play in bikinis, for example, especially in South America.”

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