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The Norwegian women’s beach handball team is facing fines for choosing to wear shorts at the European Championship instead of bikini bottoms, according to a statement issued by the European Handball Federation (EHF) on Monday.
The statement notes that “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.”
“The Disciplinary Commission decided to impose a fine of €150 ($177) per player, for a total of €1,500 ($1,770),” it concluded.
Regulations for women’s uniforms at the tournament, which took place in Varna, Bulgaria, from July 13-18, dictate that players must comply with clothing specifications as defined in the International Handball Federation Beach Handball Rules of the Game.
“Women should wear a bikini where the top should be a tight-fitting sports bra with deep openings at the arms. The bottom must not be more than ten centimeters on the sides,” the regulations state.
The Norway team wore shorts in the bronze medal match on Sunday, where they finished in fourth place after being eliminated by Spain, according to the tournament website. Germany later took the women’s European title by defeating Denmark on Sunday.
The Norwegian beach volleyball girls wanted to play in these shorts instead of in bikini bottoms which they found too revealing but were threatened by the EC tournament organizer with fines if they wore anything covering more than 10cm of their butts pic.twitter.com/LHSxXz91CM
— Tradia (@amalieskram) July 15, 2021
Meanwhile, regulations for men’s uniforms stipulate that participants must wear “tight-fitting tank tops” and longer shorts “that are not too baggy” but “should be 10 centimeters above the kneecap.”
Speaking to national broadcaster NRK, Norwegian player Katinka Haltvik said the decision to ignore the warnings and wear shorts “was very spontaneous” and that they felt “felt threatened by the regulations.”
Haltvik hopes the statement paved the way for other teams who feel uncomfortable with the uniforms but aren’t able to accept fines.
“People cheered on us for going in front of several teams and taking the brunt. Not all teams can afford to pay such fines,” she said.
She added that handball “should be an inclusive sport, not an exclusive one,” and said this extends to clothing autonomy.
According to the Herald Sun, Norwegian Handball Federation president Kare Geir Lio told NRK that these concerns are not new and that they have been campaigning for changes to the regulations for “several years.”
“We have contacted them and worked for this for several years. We have raised it at the Congress and we have been promised that this will be sorted out. Still, nothing happens,” he said.
French national coach Valérie Nicolas has publicly supported Norway’s stance. She told Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang that the response from the EHF was “unfair.”
“Money and fines should not be part of the discussion,” she said. “To create change, nations must stand together, and we are doing it now.”
“We have lost players due to the suits. The players tell me they are uncomfortable, feel naked, and watched. It is a sport with a lot of movement and you are hindered by the bikini. There is also discomfort associated with menstruation, and not least religion,” Nicolas added.
The European Handball Federation did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.