The Norwegian women’s beach handball team was fined over $1,700 after its players opted to wear matching blue athletic shorts instead of the skimpy bikini bottoms that form part of their uniform.
By wearing the thigh-length shorts when they stepped out to play Spain on Sunday, the players hoped to send a message to the European Handball Federation that women in sport should be allowed to wear uniforms that od not restrict their performance.
The bikini bottoms are less than ideal as they make it difficult for team members to play at their best, Kare Geir Lio, the head of Norway’s Handball Federation, told The Washington Post in an email.
However, on Monday the disciplinary commission of the larger European Handball Federation claimed their clothing was "improper," and ordered the team to pay a fine of 1,500 euros, which is about $1,770.
"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 [International Handball Federation] Beach Handball Rules of the Game," the disciplinary commission said in a statement.
According to the International Handball Federation’s handbook, female athletes must wear bikini bottoms "with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg." The side width "must be of a maximum of 10 centimeters (roughly 4 inches)."
Male athletes meanwhile, may wear longer shorts that remain 10 centimeters above the knee.
The European Handball Federation reportedly warned Norway’s Handball Federation that the team could face stricter penalties, including fees or player disqualifications if they did not adhere to the requirements laid forth in the handbook, The Post noted.
However, in a statement, the European Handball Federation denied threatening to disqualify the team.
"The EHF was aware of the Norwegian Handball Federation’s request and the NHF was subsequently made aware of the list of penalties," Thomas Schöneich, a spokesman with the European Handball Federation, said. "However, a potential disqualification was not mentioned and has not been an option."
Team captain Katinka Haltvik told Norwegian public broadcasting company NRK that the uniform requirements were exclusive and should instead be inclusive. Haltvik further said she hoped the stint would lead to a breakthrough that allowed the women's team to play in what they wanted next season.
Lio said that the team had not decided whether they will wear bikini bottoms or shorts for their next match, but added that she hoped there will be a new set of rules set before then.
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