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Norway fined for not wearing bikini bottoms at European beach handball competition

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By Euronews with AFP
Uniform regulations are defined by the International Handball Federation.
Uniform regulations are defined by the International Handball Federation.   -   Copyright  IAN WALTON FOR OIS / IOC / OIS/IOC / AFP
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Norway has been fined €1,500 after their women's beach handball team did not wear bikini bottoms at a European competition.

Norway's players wore shorts in their bronze medal match against Spain at the European Beach Handball Championship in Varna, Bulgaria, on Sunday.

But the uniform violated the regulations of the International Handball Federation (IHF), which requires players to wear "fitted, low-cut bikini bottoms".

On Monday, the Disciplinary Committee of the European Handball Federation (EHF) fined the Norwegian team €150 per player, for violating international rules.

The Norwegian Handball Federation (NHF) had stated that it was prepared to pay the penalty.

"Of course we would pay any fine," NHF president Kare Geir Lio told AFP, "we are all in the same boat."

But Norwegian sports circles and commentators have expressed their outrage at the punishment. Players have previously stated that bikini bottoms are too degrading or impractical.

"In 2021, it shouldn't even be an issue," Eirik Sørdahl, president of the Norwegian Volleyball Federation, told the national agency NTB.

Meanwhile, Norway's culture minister Abid Raja described the fine as "completely ridiculous".

"How much attitudinal change is needed in the macho and conservative international world of sport?" he said on Twitter.

Ahead of the European Championship, Norway had approached the EHF to ask for permission to play in shorts, only to be 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. "It should be a free choice within standardised rules."

A Norwegian motion to amend the current uniform regulations will likely be discussed by the bodies in the coming months.

"The EHF is committed to moving this issue forward in the interest of its member federations, but it should be made clear that a change in the rules can only happen at the IHF level," a spokesman said in an email to AFP.

Norway lost their bronze medal match against Spain 0-2.