The Norwegian women’s beach handball team have been fined for refusing to play in bikini bottoms in a match in the Euro 2021 sports tournament.
The team wore elastic thigh-high shorts in their bronze medal match against Spain in Bulgaria on Sunday to protest against the regulatory design of the bikini bottom which the Norwegian sports federation president called “embarrassing”.
The team was fined a total of 1,500 euros ($ 1,700) for “inappropriate clothing,” according to a statement from the disciplinary committee of the European Handball Association.
While male players are permitted to play in tank tops and shorts not exceeding 4 inches above the knee, women are required to wear bikini tops and bottoms “with a fitted cut and angled cut. up to the top of the leg. »And a maximum lateral width of 4 inches, according to the regulations of the International Handball Federation.
“It’s not [appropriate clothing for] activity when they play in the sand, ”Norwegian Handball Federation president Kåre Geir Lio told NBC News by phone from Oslo. The women’s team trains and competes in “what they want, like the boys” at home in Norway, but are subject to the dress rules of the International Handball Federation when playing abroad, he said. -he declares.
The team had requested to wear the shorts their players had been training in since the tournament began, Lio said, but were threatened by the EHA with a fine or disqualification. In Sunday’s bronze medal match, the women decided to make a statement.
“It was very spontaneous. We thought, ‘Let’s do it now, and then see what happens,'” player Katinka Haltvik told Norwegian television channel NRK.
“I got a message 10 minutes before the game that they would wear the clothes they were happy with. And they got our full support,” Lio said.
Download the NBC News app for the latest news and politics
The team received support at home and abroad on social media.
“This is utterly ridiculous! How many attitude changes are needed in the old-fashioned international sports patriarchy?” tweeted the Norwegian Minister of Culture in response to the news that the team had been fined.
Norway has campaigned since 2006 for shorts to be officially considered acceptable in beach handball, and will submit a motion to change the rules at an extraordinary IHF congress in November, Lio said.
Haltvik hopes this will make the sport more inclusive. “It shouldn’t be the case that people don’t want to participate because of the outfit,” she told NRK in April.
Efforts to regulate women’s formal attire in other beach sports have proven controversial. The Qatar Volleyball Association’s initial proposal to ban players from wearing bikinis at an international beach volleyball tournament hosted by the country this year has met with boycott threats from some players.
The International Volleyball Federation updated its own uniform rules in 2012. At this month’s Tokyo Olympics, female beach volleyball players can choose to play in shorts and a T-shirt, as well. than in a bikini or a one-piece swimsuit.