The Norwegian women’s beach handball team was fined $1,770 for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms during the Euro 2021 tournament.
The team wore thigh-length elastic shorts during their bronze medal match against Spain on Sunday to protest against the regulation bikini-bottom design, NBC News reported.
“In the bronze medal game against Spain on Sunday the team of Norway played with shorts that are not according to the Athlete Uniform Regulations defined in the (IHF) Beach Handball Rules of the Game,” the organization’s disciplinary commission said in a statement.
“In 2021, it shouldn’t even be an issue,” Eirik Sordahl, president of the Norwegian Volleyball Federation, told national news agency NTB.
The sides of the bikini bottoms “must be of a maximum of 10 (centimeters),” or about 3.9 inches, the handbook states. Men can wear shorts as long as 3.9 inches above their knees as long as they are “not too baggy,” according to the handbook.
Jessica Rockstroh, a spokesperson for the International Handball Federation, said on Tuesday that she did not know the reason for the rules.
“We’re looking into it internally,” Rockstroh told the Times.
“It’s completely ridiculous,” Abid Raja, Norway’s Minister for Culture and Sports, tweeted after Monday’s fine was announced. “What a change of attitude is needed in the macho and conservative international world of sport.”
Norwegian politician Lene Westgaard-Halle criticized the IHF for the forced bikini rule, calling it “embarrassing, disgraceful and sexist.”
Rockstroh told the Times that the IHF’s current focus was on the Olympics and not uniforms. She added that the organization had not received official complaints previously.
Rockstroh later told the newspaper that Norway was the only country that had officially complained.
“Globally we know that other countries like to play in bikinis, for example, especially in South America,” Rockstroh told the Times.
Kare Geir Lio, the head of the Norwegian Handball Federation, told The Washington Post via email that the required uniforms were not ideal for the sport and made it difficult to recruit women to play in the sport.
The federation will support the team’s right to highlight the gender differences, and to play their sport in uniforms they feel comfortable with,” Lio told the newspaper, adding that the Norwegian Handball Federation would pay the fine.
“We are very proud of these girls who are at the European Championships in beach handball. They raised their voice and told us that enough is enough,” the organization said in an Instagram post. “We are the Norwegian Handball Federation and we stand behind you and support you. We will continue to fight to change the international regulations for attire, so that players can play in the clothing they are comfortable with.”
“The EHF is committed to bring this topic forward in the interest of its member federations,” European Handball Federation spokesperson Andrew Barringer said in an email to CBS News. “However, it must also be said that a change of the rules can only happen at (the) IHF level.”
During the tournament, the Norwegian team complied by wearing the required bikini bottoms.” the Post reported. Sunday’s decision to wear shorts was a “spontaneous” moment, team captain Katinka Haltvik told Norwegian public broadcasting company NRK.
“People cheered on us as we walked in front of several teams and took the brunt,” Haltvik told NRK. “Not all teams can afford to pay such fines.”
“I hope we get a breakthrough for this and that next summer we play in what we want,” Haltvik said.
Team members have not discussed what they will wear in their next tournament, Lio told the Post.
“Hopefully we will see a new set of rules by then,” Lio said.
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