Policing female athletes’ uniforms

I am aware that the sexualization of women athletes is rampant but it is ridiculous that in this day and age official sports bodies can get away with mandating that women wear revealing outfits and even punishing them for not doing so.

Norway have been fined 1,500 euros (£1,295) for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms at the European Beach Handball Championships.

The European Handball Federation (EHF) said it had imposed the fine because of a case of “improper clothing”.

Norway’s players wore shorts instead of bikini bottoms during a bronze medal match against Spain in Varna, Bulgaria.

Norway’s Handball Federation (NHF) had already stated it would pay if their players were fined.

Here’s what they wore. Scandalous, no?

It is way beyond time for there to be a revolt and even a strike by all athletes against the requirement that they must reveal more of their bodies than they themselves choose to.

And it may be happening.

Kare Geir Lio, the head of NHF, had told news agency AFP any penalty would be paid but added: “It should be a free choice within a standardised framework.

“The most important thing is to have equipment that athletes are comfortable with.”

And following the decision to fine the players, the NHF said: “We are very proud of these girls who during the European Championships raised their voices and announced that enough is enough!

“We at NHF stand behind you and support you. Together we will continue to fight to change the rules for clothing, so that players can play in the clothes they are comfortable with.”

The issue has been debated in beach sports circles for several years as some players find the bikini both degrading and impractical.

Norway’s Minister for Culture and Sports, Abid Raja, tweeted after Monday’s ruling: “It’s completely ridiculous – a change of attitude is needed in the macho and conservative international world of sport.”

President of the Norwegian Volleyball Federation, Eirik Sordahl, was critical too, telling national news agency NTB: “In 2021, it shouldn’t even be an issue.”

Let’s hope Sordahl is right.


  1. JM says

    This is just stupid. I can see where there are issues relating to competitive advantage in some sports but this isn’t one of them.

  2. robert79 says

    I say we require the men to wear bikini bottoms, and see if it impacts their game play.

  3. Matt G says

    I brought this up recently at some blog concerning beach volleyball. There, too, there is (or was) a MAXIMUM length for bottoms. For females, of course -- men wear floppy shorts, not anything skintight.

  4. John Morales says

    Indeed, rather ridiculous.

    I too saw it in local news: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-07-21/norway-beach-handball-team-fined-over-uniform-breach/100310398

    It’s a more informative link, too:

    Beach Handball’s rules stipulate that female players must wear tops and bikini bottoms. Men wear tank tops and shorts.

    “Athletes’ uniforms and accessories contribute to helping athletes increase their performance as well as remain coherent with the sportive and attractive image of the sport,” the uniform regulations add.

    “Female athletes must wear bikini bottoms … with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg.”

  5. Holms says

    Too much coverage: women are fined for not providing enough titillation to the male viewer. Not enough coverage: put some clothes on, sluts! Meanwhile, the freedom for men to wear uniforms that are practical makes clear that this is all about male policing of the female body.

  6. says

    Women were allowed to wear shorts for 2012 in London. So why did this change back to “bikinis only”? Or are only muslim women athletes allowed to wear shorts? Playing in the sun and wanting to keep sand out, they could and should be able to wear rashguards or diveskins if they want.


    Germany’s women’s gymnastic team recently dumped skimpy leotards in favour if catsuits, as much for the mental comfort as physical. While such suits were already legal to wear, most didn’t because of “pressure” in the gymnastics community (read: gawking male judges penalizing them with low marks if they didn’t bare skin).


  7. cartomancer says

    It strikes me as a case of rules for the sake of rules, quite honestly. There is a certain mindset prevalent in some quarters of society that having and enforcing rules is important in and of itself, irrespective of whether those rules actually achieve anything. I have very little time for such authoritarianism. I’m fine with rules to achieve an actual, significant and necessary end.

    Though it does make me wonder… why does anyone feel the need to make athletes wear revealing clothing? It’s not like there aren’t dozens of ways to see as much revealed flesh as anyone could want already.

  8. Dauphni says

    why does anyone feel the need to make athletes wear revealing clothing?

    You’ve basically answered that question yourself. It’s because they can.
    What better way to remind yourself that you have the power to make pointless regulations than to make other people follow pointless regulations?

  9. Dauphni says

    As to why specifically revealing clothing it’s because we live in a patriarchal society and that means enforcing sexist regulations is just that much easier. For example they could also require athletes get a certain tattoo in a certain location, but most people would balk at enforcing that. You don’t get as much resistance when you’re asking people to keep down others in a way they’re already familiar with.

  10. mnb0 says

    @2 Robert79: “I say we require the men to wear bikini bottoms, and see if it impacts their game play.”
    Not exactly bikini bottoms, but football players (the global version, not the American one) used to reveal much more than nowadays. Compare:



    I don’t think this is a coincidence. There is more to it that just policing (which is both stupid and awful indeed).

  11. mnb0 says

    @MarcusR: maybe you should give a shit or two then on Polish and Hungarian high courrts declaring that national laws trump EU laws. The relevance is that Poland wants to become a LBGT free zone, Hungarian schools already have become LBGT+ free zones. Still I found nothing on it on your blog. Perhaps you’re out of shits to give, because you dropped them in quicksand?

  12. Holms says

    Yeah, Maracus! You need to blog about every topic on the planet, because otherwise twits will assume you don’t give a shit about any group you don’t blog about…

  13. lorn says

    I suppose we could go back to entirely nude participation by all competitors. Would make the winter games more interesting.

    Perhaps, one day. A body-positive Olympics would be great IMHO. Not likely any time soon.

    More seriously, as long as the clothes don’t confer any advantage I don’t see an issue. In a perfect world athletes would wear as much, or as little as they like. We don’t live in a perfect world so there are going to be social and cultural norms that compromise that ideal. In this case there seems to be some needless and archaic sex bias. Let the women wear anything they like between the bikini outfit and what the men wear. Make it their choice.

  14. birgerjohansson says

    The singer ‘Pink’ has offered to pay the fine for the Norwegian team.
    BTW, if there was some trustworthy site where I could send money to contribute to this cause, I would do it.
    And if there is a site selling T shirts saying “EHF is a bunch of wankers” I will definitely be a customer.

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