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Norwegians give short shrift to fine for women’s handball team

Norwegian officials reacted sharply on Tuesday after the country's women's beach handball team was fined for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms in competition.

Norwegians give short shrift to fine for women's handball team
Norway's Stine Ruscetta Skogrand (L) vies with Montenegro's Vukcevic Nikolina (C) and Ema Ramusovic (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 Disciplinary Committee of the European Handball Federation (EHF) on Monday fined the Norway 1,500 euros ($1,768), or 150 euros per player, after they wore shorts in their bronze-medal match loss to Spain at the European Beach Handball Championship in Varna, Bulgaria, on Sunday.

“In 2021, it shouldn’t even be an issue,” the president of the Norwegian Volleyball Federation, Eirik Sordahl, told national news agency NTB.

Clothing has long been an issue in beach sports, with some women players finding bikinis degrading or impractical.

While bikinis have not been compulsory for beach volleyball players since 2012, International Handball Federation (IHF) rules state “female athletes must wear bikini bottoms” and that these must have “a close fit”, be “cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg” and a side depth of no more than 10 centimetres.

Male players wear shorts.

READ MORE: Norwegian female beach handballers scrap bikini in spite of rules

“It’s completely ridiculous,” Norway’s Minister for Culture and Sports, Abid Raja, tweeted after Monday’s ruling. “What a change of attitude is needed in the macho and conservative international world of sport.”

Ahead of the tournament, Norway asked the EHF for permission to play in shorts, but were told that breaches of the rules were punishable by fines.

They complied, until their last match.

“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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SPORT

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.

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