The Norwegians wore regulation-sized black bikini bottoms for most of the Beach Handball Euro 2021 tournament, but they made a last-minute change ahead of their final match. The women stepped out in skin-tight blue athletic shorts, drawing cheers from the crowd and anger from the European Handball Federation (EHF), which fined the 10 players a total of 1,500 euros.
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The Norwegians had asked for permission to swap the bikini bottoms for shorts ahead of the tournament, citing the players’ preference for something less revealing and more comfortable. The women also pointed out that the outfits made it difficult to attract new players to the sport in Norway and abroad.
The ruling EHF rejected the request and warned the team there would be penalties for dress code violations, the Washington Post reports.
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Team captain Katinka Haltvik said it was a “spontaneous” decision to change him for this final game.
“Now we do, and then we’ll see what happens,” she told Norwegian TV station NRK.
She added that the team felt they had been “threatened” with disqualification over their wardrobe change idea.
“It should be an inclusive sport, not an exclusive sport,” she said, citing the discomfort some players feel with the bikini bottom.
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Norway lost the game to Spain but received enthusiastic cheers when they hit the sand in their kits.
The Norwegian Handball Federation has announced that it will pay the fines for the 10 women involved. The federation also plans to continue pushing for changes to the international dress code of uniforms for women.
“I hope we get a breakthrough for that and next summer we play whatever we want,” Haltvik told NRK.
Women “must wear bikini bottoms”, according to the rules of the International Handball Federation. The stockings should have “a tight fit and cut at an upward angle towards the top of the leg”, say the rules, while the width of the sides “should be a maximum of 10 centimeters”.
Men are allowed to wear “not too loose” shorts, as long as they stay 10 centimeters above the kneecap.
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The Norwegians have not said what they will wear for their next game, but they are hopeful there will be changes before that that will allow them to wear what they want.
“We are very proud of these girls who… raised their voices and told us that ENOUGH ENOUGH! The Norwegian Handball Federation said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
“We at the Norwegian Handball Federation support you and support you. Together, we will continue to fight to change international dress regulations, so players can play in clothes they are comfortable with!