Until the recent change in regulation, women were required to wear crop tops and “close fit” bottoms that were “cut on an upward angle”. Their male counterparts were allowed tank tops with shorts that had to hit at least four inches above their knees.
Norway’s teams had both been playing in shorts back in their home country, but only the women’s team was forced to change their kit when competing abroad. When they submitted a petition to the European Handball Federation to allow their training shorts at the beginning of the championship, they were shut down with the threat of a fine or even potential disqualification. This was not their first attempt either, the country has been pushing for more equal uniform rules since 2006; some of their points included self-consciousness and concern over cultural practices.
Of course, there are those who argue that beach handball is played in hot weather, and that tight-fitting clothes would allow for better ease of movement. But then surely we should also start giving men bikinis? Before the tournament, a few Danish players pulled out in May because they stated they felt uncomfortable. More women over the years have stated that worry over their attire slipping was a distraction from the match, and many of the competition photos posted on social media prompted harassment from male athletes.
In September, the Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Icelandic sports ministers wrote an open letter to the IHF asking for change. The IHF promised the public that this matter would go into consideration in the annual congress meeting in November, and now the official rulebook now states that female players may now wear "body fit tank tops" and "short tight pants.” This will surely come as a relief to many athletes, especially those at junior levels, and hopefully, we will keep pursuing gender equality in other areas of more sports.