The Norwegian women's beach handball team has a fan in international pop star Pink, who is focused on promoting equality in a sport that is under consideration to debut in the 2024 Olympics.
Pink took to Twitter this past weekend to commend the Norwegian team for "protesting the very sexist rules about their 'uniform'" by wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms and offered to pay their fines.
Last week, the team was fined €1,500 (about $1,768) for donning "improper clothing" during its bronze-medal match against Spain in the 2021 European Beach Handball Championships, according to a statement from the European Handball Association's disciplinary commission.
I'm VERY proud of the Norwegian female beach handball team FOR PROTESTING THE VERY SEXIST RULES ABOUT THEIR "uniform". The European handball federation SHOULD BE FINED FOR SEXISM. Good on ya, ladies. I'll be happy to pay your fines for you. Keep it up.— P!nk (@Pink) July 25, 2021
While the Norwegian Handball Federation announced it was prepared to pay the fines, the team expressed gratitude for Pink's backing on its Instagram account, writing, "Wow! Thank you so much for the support."
The women wore spandex shorts -- like their male counterparts -- rather than the regulation bikini-bottom design that the sport's Norwegian federation president called "embarrassing."
Norwegian Handball Federation president Kåre Geir Lio told NBC News that the Norwegian team had petitioned from the start of the tournament to wear shorts, prompting the European Handball Federation to threaten the team with a fine or disqualification.
"It's not [appropriate clothing for] the activity when they are playing in the sand. The women's team trains and competes in 'what they want, like the boys' at home in Norway, but is subject to the International Handball Federation's clothing rules when playing abroad," Lio said.
Pink isn't the first public figure to address the uniform disparity, with tennis icon Billie Jean King tweeting, "The sexualization of women athletes must stop."
Bath (England) University handball club co-captain Emma Steggles weighed in, telling BBC News: "It's putting people off the sport being made to play in a bikini," and adding that she "would feel extremely uncomfortable being made to wear a bikini to play a sport I love."