Norway‘s women’s beach handball team has been fined for wearing athletic shorts instead of bikini bottoms in a bronze-medal match against Spain after officials deemed the shorts to be “improper clothing.”
The Norwegians wore regulation-sized black bikini bottoms through most of the Beach Handball Euro 2021 tournament, but they pulled a last-minute switch ahead of their final match. The women walked out in tight-fitting blue athletic shorts, drawing cheers from the crowd and anger from the European Handball Federation (EHF), which fined all 10 players for a total penalty of 1,500 euros.
The Norwegian women had asked for permission to swap out the bikini bottoms for shorts ahead of the tournament, citing the players’ preference to wear something less revealing and more comfortable. The women also pointed out that the outfits make it hard to attract new players to the sport in Norway and abroad.
The governing EHF denied the request and warned the team that there would be penalties for violating the dress code, the Washington Post reports.
Team captain Katinka Haltvik says it was a “spontaneous” decision to switch it up for that last game.
“Now we just do it, then we will see what happens,” she told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
She added that the team felt that they’d been “threatened” with disqualification over their idea for a wardrobe change.
“It should be an inclusive sport, not an exclusive sport,” she said, citing the discomfort that some players feel with the bikini bottoms.
Norway lost the game to Spain but received a rousing cheer when they hit the sand in their outfits.
The Norwegian Handball Federation says it will pay the fines for all 10 women involved. The federation also plans to continue pushing for changes to the international uniform dress code for women.
“I hope we get a breakthrough for this and that next summer we play in what we want,” Haltvik told NRK.
Women “must wear bikini bottoms,” according to the International Handball Federation rules. The bottoms must have “a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg,” the rules say, while the side width “must be of a maximum of 10 centimetres.”
Men are allowed to wear shorts that are “not too baggy,” as long as they remain 10 centimetres above the kneecap.
The Norwegians did not say what they’ll wear to their next match, but they do hope there will be changes before then that will allow them to wear what they want.
“We are very proud of these girls who … raised their voice and told us that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” the Norwegian Handball Federation said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
“We at the Norwegian Handball Federation stand behind you and support you. Together we will continue to fight to change the international regulations for attire, so that players can play in the clothes they are comfortable with!”