The Norwegian beach handball team has said there is “no good reason” why they should wear a bikini to participate after being fined earlier this week for dumping skimpy bottoms for unregulated shorts.
Players Tonya Lurstaad and Julia Bird appeared in Lorraine earlier today, telling guest host Ranvir Singh that they would swap the skimpy outfit for a uniform more like the men’s shorts and t-shirts “for a long time”, adding: “We wanted to make a statement and change the regulations.’
Earlier this week, the Scandinavians wore shorts instead of the bikini required by International Handball Federation (IHF) rules in their bronze medal match against Spain at the European Beach Handball Championship in Varna, Bulgaria.
The Disciplinary Commission of the European Handball Federation (EHF) on Monday fined the team 1,500 euros (£1,300) or 150 euros (£130) per player.
Norway’s beach handball team has revealed they are ‘feeling overwhelmed with support’ after refusing to wear bikini bottoms this week and instead competed in unregulated shorts (pictured)
Tonya said on the program today: ‘There has been a lot of support for our federation.
“Even every other federation – except those who make the rules – has supported us. We are so grateful for the support.’
The women said they were given “no good reason” as to why they had to wear a bikini to play the sport, and Tonya added: “We were just told this is the rule.”
You could see the players nodding as Ranvir called the rules “sexist”.
By dumping the regulated bikini bottoms, the Norwegian women’s team (pictured in 2017 wearing bikini bottoms) has been fined 150 euros per player – a total of 1,500 euros
Tonya added: ‘We want to grow this sport so that everyone feels they want to participate.
“Because of physical insecurities, many women just say, ‘No, I don’t want to do this.’ And that’s very sad.’
Julia said the men’s team had also supported the changes, adding: “People are quite shocked that in 2021 women won’t be able to choose what to wear. It’s actually been overwhelming.’
Tonya added: “If the boys can do it in a t-shirt and shorts, we should be able to do it in the exact same outfit.”
Tonya said she believes the bikinis prevent women with physical insecurities from participating in the sport, telling Ranvir that she wants to “grow this sport so that everyone can feel they want to participate.”
Norwegian officials reacted angrily to the news that the team had been heavily fined on Tuesday.
“It’s completely ridiculous,” Norway’s Culture and Sports Minister Abid Raja tweeted after Monday’s verdict. ‘What a change of mentality is needed in the macho and conservative international sports world.’
Eirik Sordahl, the chairman of the Norwegian Volleyball Federation, told the national news agency NTB: “In 2021 it should not be a problem.”
The issue has been discussed in beach sports circles for several years now, as some players find the bikini degrading or just plain impractical.
You could see the players nodding as Ranvir called the rules “sexist” and said they were “overwhelmed” with support
Before the European Championship, Norway approached the European Handball Federation to ask for permission to play in shorts, but were told that violations of the rules could be punished with fines.
“The most important thing is to have equipment that athletes are comfortable with,” said Lio, adding that “it should be a free choice within a standardized framework.”
The European Handball Federation said it was aware of the incident but had not yet decided whether to punish Norway.
A Norwegian motion to change the current rules will be discussed by the authorities in the coming months.
In the photo: The Norwegian beach handball team competes in 2017 in regulatory clothing. The issue has been discussed in beach sports circles for years, as some players find the bikini degrading or simply impractical
“The EHF is committed to raising this issue in the interest of its member federations, but it must also be said that any change to the rules can only take place at the IHF level,” EHF spokesman Andrew Barringer said in a statement. e-mail.
Contrary to the situation earlier this year, German beach volleyball stars Karla Borger and Julia Sude said they would boycott a tournament in Qatar because it is “the only country” where players are not allowed to wear bikinis on the pitch.
“We are there to do our job, but we are prevented from wearing our work clothes,” Borger told a radio station at the time.
“This is really the only country and the only tournament where a government tells us how to do our job – we criticize that.”
Contrary to the situation earlier this year, German beach volleyball stars Karla Borger and Julia Sude (pictured) said they would boycott a tournament in Qatar because it is “the only country” where players are prohibited from wearing bikinis on the pitch.
The Middle Eastern country hosted the FIVB World Tour event, but strict rules about dress on the pitch had resulted in world championship silver medalist Borger and her doubles partner Sude avoiding the event.
But in a big U-turn, the Qatar Volleyball Association (QVA) said there would be “no restrictions” on players wearing bikinis.
Female players were asked to wear shirts and long pants instead of the usual bikinis, a rule which the FIVB World Beach Volleyball Federation says is “out of respect for the culture and traditions of the host country.”
Qatar is a conservative Islamic country where women are expected to dress conservatively, but due to the large number of foreign workers and efforts to boost tourism, compliance is somewhat patchy.