Norway has been fined 1,500 euros (£1,295) for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms at the European Beach Handball Championships.
According to the European Handball Federation (EHF), the fine was imposed because it was a case of “improper clothing”.
During a bronze medal match against Spain in Varna, Bulgaria, the country’s players wore shorts instead of bikini bottoms.
However, Norway’s Handball Federation (NHF) had already stated it would pay if its players were fined.
The EHF issued a statement saying that a disciplinary commission had levied a fine of “150 euros per player, for a total of 1,500 euros”.
Further, it added that the players wore shorts that are – “not according to the athlete uniform regulations defined in the IHF [International Handball Federation] beach handball rules of the game.”
Kare Geir Lio, the head of NHF said – any penalty would be paid but added: “It should be a free choice within a standardised framework.
“The most important thing is to have equipment that athletes are comfortable with.”
On the decision to fine the players, the NHF said:
“We are very proud of these girls who during the European Championships raised their voices and announced that enough is enough!
“We at NHF stand behind you and support you. Together we will continue to fight to change the rules for clothing, so that players can play in the clothes they are comfortable with.”
Moreover, Norway approached the EHF beforehand to ask for permission to play in shorts but was told that breaches of the rules were punishable by fines.
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,” said EHF spokesman Andrew Barringer.
The issue has been debated in beach sports circles for several years as some players find the bikini both humiliating and unreasonable.
After the ruling on Monday, Norway’s Minister for Culture and Sports, Abid Raja, tweeted:
“It’s completely ridiculous – a change of attitude is needed in the macho and conservative international world of sport.”
President of the Norwegian Volleyball Federation, Eirik Sordahl, was critical too, telling national news agency NTB: “In 2021, it shouldn’t even be an issue.”