In a 2006 letter to the International Handball Federation, the Norwegian Handball Federation said the obligation for women to wear bikini bottoms was impervious to the cultural norms of some countries and could be embarrassing for those who did not want to expose so much of their bodies so seen a copy of The New York Times. In handball, a sport that combines elements of soccer and basketball, goalkeepers should be allowed to wear less flashy uniforms because they use all parts of the body to repel shots, the letter argued.
Thomas Schoeneich, spokesman for the European Handball Federation, said on Tuesday that the organization was only enforcing the rules set by the international association. “Change can only happen at the level of the International Handball Federation,” he said.
At a meeting of the European Handball Federation in April, the Norwegian Handball Federation proposed changing the uniform rules for female athletes. The application is expected to be discussed in the International Handball Federation in November, said Schoeneich.
Mrs. Welfler, the Norwegian handball player, said there were players in Norway who did not want to compete internationally due to uniform requirements. (Norwegian players can wear shorts at national tournaments.)
“It’s really sad because maybe the best players won’t take part,” she said. She also said that female players were tired of being screened in skimpy clothes. The focus should be on the game, she said.
Janice Forsyth, associate professor of sociology at Western University in Canada and former director of the university’s International Center for Olympic Studies, said certain uniforms, particularly in athletics and swimming, could give athletes an advantage. But in the case of beach handball, wearing shorts instead of bikinis would not allow athletes to jump higher or move faster in the sand.
“I don’t see how this argument carries any weight,” she said. “To say that wearing less clothes, as women are asked to do, enables them to be better athletes is just silly.”
Amanda Morris contributed to the coverage.