Norwegian female beach handballers scrap bikini in spite of rules

Norwegian female beach handballers scrap bikini in spite of rules
Norway's Henny Ella Reistad (L) fights for the ball with Montenegro's Nikolina Vukcevic (R) during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics women's qualifying handball match between Montenegro and Norway in Podgorica on March 19, 2021. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)
The Norwegian handball federation said Monday it was ready to pay a possible fine after a match that saw the country's female beach handball team defy official regulations and forgo the bikini bottoms.

The Scandinavians wore shorts instead of the bikini required by the International Handball Federation’s (IHF) rules in their bronze medal match against Spain at the European Beach Handball Championship in Varna, Bulgaria, on Sunday.

In doing so, they risked a fine of 50 euros per player per match according to Norway’s Katinka Haltvik, quoted by public broadcaster NRK.

“Of course we would pay any fine,” Norwegian Handball Federation president Kare Geir Lio told AFP on Monday.

“We are all in the same boat,” he added.

The issue has been debated in beach sports circles for several years as some players find the bikini degrading or simply impractical.

Ahead of the European Championship, Norway approached the European Handball Federation to ask for permission to play in shorts, but were told that breaches of the rules were punishable by fines.

“The most important thing is to have equipment that athletes are comfortable with,” Lio said, adding that “it should be a free choice within a standardised framework.”

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The European Handball Federation said it was aware of the episode but had not yet decided on whether to sanction Norway.

A Norwegian motion to amend the current rules will be discussed by the bodies in the coming months

“The EHF is committed to bring this topic forward in the interest of its member federations, however it must also be said that a change of the rules can only happen at IHF level,” EHF spokesman Andrew Barringer said in an email.


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