Norwegian female beach handballers scrap bikini in spite of rules

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.

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 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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Spain thrown out of 2023 Rugby World Cup

Spain have been thrown out of the 2023 Rugby World Cup for fielding an ineligible South African-born player during the qualifying stages and will be replaced by Romania, World Rugby announced on Thursday.

Spain thrown out of 2023 Rugby World Cup

“Subject to Spain’s right of appeal, the 10-point deduction applied to the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification table means that Romania will qualify as Europe 2 into Pool B replacing Spain,” read the statement.

Portugal — who Spain beat to seal their place in the global showpiece in France next year — replace Romania in the Final Qualification Tournament taking place in November 2022.

“Spain has a right of appeal within 14 days of the date of the full written decision of the committee,” read the statement.

According to Spanish media in March, the player under investigation was South African-born prop Gavin van den Berg, who has been playing in Spain since 2018.

He played twice against the Netherlands, in 2020 and 2021, in qualifiers, but he may not seemingly have served the three years of residency needed to become eligible under World Rugby rules.

Spain, Romania and Belgium were all sanctioned in 2018 for having fielded ineligible players, opening the way for Russia to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.