Handball Federation ends bikini requirement for women after protests

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The International Handball Federation will no longer require women to compete in bikini bottoms, the organization announced Monday. The move comes after Norwegian players staged a protest by wearing shorts to a championship match and called for a change to the dress code.

The organization has updated its dress code to allow women players to wear “body fit tank tops” and”short tight pants with a close fit.” The new requirements will go into effect on January 1, 2022. The Federation did not say why the changes were made and did not immediately respond to CBS News' request for comment.

In July, Norway's women's team protested the prior dress code. Instead of the required “close fit” bikini bottoms, players wore shorts to the European Beach Handball Championships. As a result, the team was fined 1,500 euros, or $1,728.

The fine sparked widespread criticism ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. Popstar Pink offered to pay the penalty and called the rules sexist — the men's team has only been required to wear shorts that are four inches above the knee. 

“What a change of attitude is needed in the macho and conservative international world of sport.”

“It's completely ridiculous,” Norway's Minister for Culture and Sports Abid Raja tweeted after the women's team was fined. “What a change of attitude is needed in the macho and conservative international world of sport.”

Lene Westgaard-Halle, a Norwegian politician, asked, “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.”

In response to the controversy, the European Handball Federation later donated the fine to a major international sports foundation dedicated to “equality for women and girls in sports.” 

“The EHF acknowledges the position of the players involved and further steps towards change, in close coordination with the International Handball Federation, have been and are in motion,” Michael Wiederer, the group's president, said in July. “We are very much aware of the attention the topic has received over the past days, and while changes cannot happen overnight, we are fully committed that something good comes out of this situation right now which is why the EHF has donated the fine for a good cause promoting equality in sports.”

At the time, the team responded on Instagram. “Babysteps. It feels so good to know that we have EHFs support, and we believe that a change is in motion,” the team said. “Thank you for all the support — you are amazing.”

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