Norwegian Women's Beach Handball Team Reacts to Being Fined for Not Playing in Bikini Bottoms

·5 min read

UPDATE: After the Norwegian women's beach handball team was fined for not playing in the required bikini bottoms, Pink offered to open up her wallet.

"I'm VERY proud of the Norwegian female beach handball team FOR PROTESTING THE VERY SEXIST RULES ABOUT THEIR 'uniform,'" the singer wrote on Twitter. "The European handball federation SHOULD BE FINED FOR SEXISM. Good on ya, ladies. I'll be happy to pay your fines for you. Keep it up."

Keep reading below to read more about why the team decided to take a stand against the rules.

—————

The Norwegian women's beach handball team spiked the uniform rules to protest against alleged sexism and are hoping it will lead to lasting change.

Earlier this week, the European Handball Federation fined the group 1,500 Euros ($1,765)—or 150 Euros ($177) per player—for wearing shorts instead of the required bikini bottoms during a championship game against Spain at the European Beach Handball Championships in Bulgaria.

In recent days, scores of fans have rallied behind the women over their protest, which they had planned for weeks.

2020 Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony

"Thank you so much for all the support," the team responded on Instagram on Friday, July 23, alongside a photo of the team wearing their uniform shorts. "We really appreciate all the love we have received...You're the best."

In a statement on July 19, the EHF said, "The Disciplinary Commission at the Beach Handball EURO 2021 has dealt with a case of improper clothing. 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's] Beach Handball Rules of the Game."

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

The latter organization's official rules state that for international matches, "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 centimetres [about 4 inches]."

Meanwhile, men are allowed to wear shorts that are longer "but must remain 10 centimetres above the kneecap" and also cannot be "too baggy."

The Norwegian Handball Federation has rallied behind the women. The group's president, Kåre Geir Lio, told NBC News the EHF had threatened to fine or disqualify the team after they petitioned to wear shorts at the EURO 2021 tournament. The players decided to do it anyway to make a statement.

"It was very spontaneous," player Katinka Haltvik told Norwegian broadcaster NRK. "We thought, 'Let's just do it now, and then see what happens.'"

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

In addition, earlier this week, two of her teammates, Tonje Lerstad and Julie Aspelund Berg, addressed the controversy on the British talk show Lorraine. They agreed with guest host Ranvir Singh that the bikini bottoms requirement for women was "sexist."

"If the guys can do the sport with a T-shirt and shorts," said Lerstad, "then we should be able to do the exact same sport with the exact same outfit."

"From our federation, there has been a lot of support and I think every other federation as well except the ones who are making the rules," she continued. "So we're so thankful for the support."

Berg said, "Hopefully, we would make a statement now and maybe they will change the rules."

She also said that the team has received support from the Norwegian men's beach handball team and from most other teams from around the world.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I’m VERY proud of the Norwegian female beach handball team FOR PROTESTING THE VERY SEXIST RULES ABOUT THEIR “uniform”. The European handball federation SHOULD BE FINED FOR SEXISM. Good on ya, ladies. I’ll be happy to pay your fines for you. Keep it up.</p>&mdash; P!nk (@Pink) <a href="https://twitter.com/Pink/status/1419127641068630016?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 25, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Lio told NBC News that Norway has campaigned since 2006 for shorts to be officially considered acceptable in beach handball. He also said they planned to submit a motion to change the rules in an extraordinary congress of the IHF in November.

As for their recent championship match, the Norwegian team lost to Spain, 0:2.

"Unfortunately, the European Championship did not end with a medal," the team said in an Instagram post on July 20. "However, we are so happy to have reached our goal of qualifying for the World Championship next year."

The message continued, "We are also very proud about making a statement in the bronze final by playing in shorts instead of required bikini bottoms! We are overwhelmed by the attention and support from all over the world! Thank you so much to all the people who support us and help spread the message! We really hope this will result in a change of this nonsense rule!"

A spokeswoman for the International Handball Federation, Jessica Rockstroh, told The New York Times earlier this week that she did not know the reason for the uniform rules, adding, "We're looking into it internally." She also said her organization's focus at the moment was on the Olympics, not uniforms, and that Norway was the only country that had officially complained. She added, "Globally we know that other countries like to play in bikinis, for example, especially in South America."

The Norwegian team's protest and fine came days before the start of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Beach handball is not one of its sports, but is rather included in the Summer Youth Olympic Games, the next of which is set to be held in Senegal in 2026.

However, a similar sport, beach volleyball, is featured at the Olympics. There, female beach volleyball players can choose to play in shorts and T-shirts, as well as bikinis or one-piece bathing suits, according to NBC News.

(E! and NBC News are both part of the NBCUniversal family and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are currently airing on Peacock.)

(This story was originally published on Saturday, July 24 at 1:49 p.m. PST)

Watch 2020 Tokyo Olympics coverage every day on NBC and Peacock.