Like the Norwegian players, the members of the French beach handball team have decided to fight to end the compulsory bikini. Their wish? Being able to choose the jersey that suits them.
Go viral on the internet, the beach handball players of the Norwegian team have revealed to the whole world the sexism of the regulations decided by the international handball federation. Unlike men who have to wear shorts and a tank top to play, women have a sports bra and high-cut bikini bottom as a compulsory uniform. During a European competition, the very well ranked Norwegian team wanted to play in shorties. A decision which pushed the federation to impose a fine of 1,500 euros on them for not complying with the regulations.
Quickly, the teams of Sweden, Denmark and France gave their support to the Norwegian players. Valérie Nicolas, the coach of the national handball team in France (currently in Japan for the 2020 Olympics) underlined the discomfort and the absurdity of the bikini bottom as a uniform. In interview with the Parisian, she explains : “You don’t necessarily feel comfortable in a bikini, you feel a bit naked. When you have your period, you need to have a tampon so you have no choice but to protect yourself. ‘a thread is sticking out, you’re still freaking out. “
Same story for the French players who confide in Eastern Republican : “It is not at all suitable. We must always pay attention to the placement of the panties, not to mention that we have sand everywhere” begins Romane Fréfon-Demouge, member of the French beach team. “As soon as we wear the bikini we think about it. Thinking about our posture takes us out of our game and necessarily makes us less mobile” continues, Laurane Scalabrino, the goalkeeper of the Blue.
A deeply sexist regulation
The coach and the head of the women’s handball sector, Joëlle Demouge, also explain that this compulsory bikini scares young women who are nevertheless interested in the practice of this sport. “We work with teenage girls. We can see that the bikini is a barrier to practice, fewer girls want to try, There are girls who have a great level and who refuse to enter selection because of that !” emphasizes Joëlle Demouge in an interview with the Republican East.
The regulations, in addition to specifying that the bikini bottom must not exceed ten centimeters at the level of the legs, also stipulate that the uniform is linked to “the attractive image that sport should have.” Obviously, a women’s beach handball match must be aesthetic. “It’s super sexist, declares Romane Fréfon-Demouge. It’s very disturbing that it comes from institutions. It means that our sport is basically sexist. ” Valérie Nicolas, likewise, confirms to the Parisian that his discipline deserves better. “Making the potiche does not interest me too much, the players do not have any more. We are not there for that and it is a spectacular sport. For beach handball, we want the interest to be focused on the athlete , not on the bikini “.
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To show their disagreement, the French players decided to send a letter to the French handball federation. After being a pledge of support and listening, the latter forwarded it to the EHF (European Federation), which itself forwarded it to the IHF (international federation and final decision-maker). Les Bleues have not yet received a response. For Valérie Nicolas, in these federations mainly led by men, there is no will to change things. “Everyone is open and everyone wants to move forward on it except these gentlemen from another time, from another environment, perhaps from another intellectual level. I would like the neurons to connect up there. and that they understand that to advance our discipline and have a high level, we must have the best and that they can play in a liberated manner. “
In the meantime, the French players, with the agreement of their coach and director, have decided to play their next matches in shorts, like the boys. They therefore take the risk of receiving several fines like their Norwegian counterparts. “I am ready to be sanctioned without problem, I hope that the French federation will also act” estimates Valérie Nicolas. “These claims are not made against anyone, but for the well-being of our players, insists the director Joëlle Demouge. Men have always decided everything. In 2021, it is important that women wake up. You have to take charge. “
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