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A women’s handball team wore shorts instead of skimpy bikini-bottom uniforms. The league fined them over $1,700.

The European Handball Federation ordered Norway's handball team to pay 1,500 euros — or about $1,770 — after the women wore athletic shorts during a match on Sunday. (Norway’s Handball Federation)

When the Norwegian women’s beach handball team walked onto the court on Sunday to face its rival, Spain, the players chose not to wear the black bikini bottoms they usually pair with their sports bras. Instead, the women donned matching pairs of form-fitting blue athletic shorts.

The players hoped to send a message to the European Handball Federation: Women in sports should be permitted to wear uniforms that allow them to play their best.

Many women on the team said the uniforms are not ideal for a sport that requires twists, turns and other athletic movements in the sand, Kare Geir Lio, the head of Norway’s Handball Federation, told The Washington Post in an email. Handball, a game derived from soccer, consists of 10-player teams throwing, catching and dribbling a ball with their hands.

Lio said requiring female players to wear bikini bottoms makes it difficult to recruit women to the sport.

“The federation will support the team’s right to highlight the gender differences, and to play their sport in uniforms they feel comfortable with,” Lio told The Post.

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Nevertheless, on Monday, the disciplinary commission of the larger European Handball Federation ordered the team to pay a fine of 1,500 euros — or about $1,770 — for wearing “improper clothing.”

“In the bronze medal game against Spain on Sunday the team of Norway played with shorts that are not according to the Athlete Uniform Regulations defined in the [International Handball Federation] Beach Handball Rules of the Game,” the disciplinary commission said in a statement.

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According to the International Handball Federation’s handbook, female athletes must wear bikini bottoms “with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg.” “The side width,” the rules state, “must be of a maximum of 10 [centimeters],” or about 3.9 inches.

The same handbook instructs men handball players must wear longer shorts that are “not too baggy” and “10 [centimeters] above the kneecap.”

The team considered wearing shorts for the opening match, Lio told The Post, but eventually decided against it after the European Handball Federation warned Norway’s Handball Federation that the team could face stricter penalties — including fees or player disqualifications.

The European Handball Federation denied threatening to disqualify the team if the women ditched their bikini bottoms.

“The EHF was aware of the Norwegian Handball Federation’s request and the NHF was subsequently made aware of the list of penalties,” Thomas Schöneich, a spokesman with the European Handball Federation, told The Post in an email. “However, a potential disqualification was not mentioned and has not been an option.”

For the most part, the Norwegian team advanced through the July 13 to July 18 championship wearing the required bikini bottoms. But on Sunday, in a “spontaneous” moment, the team agreed to switch the bikinis for the thigh-length shorts, team captain Katinka Haltvik told Norwegian public broadcasting company NRK.

“Now we just do it, then we will see what happens,” Haltvik said of the team’s decision.

So, on July 18, the team set foot in the sand wearing the blue shorts as the crowd applauded their act of rebellion.

“People cheered on us as we walked in front of several teams and took the brunt. Not all teams can afford to pay such fines,” Haltvik told NRK.

The team lost to Spain, but the captain said she hopes the defiant move can get the women closer to wearing whatever they are most comfortable in during the next championship.

“I hope we get a breakthrough for this and that next summer we play in what we want,” Haltvik told NRK.

As for the next match, the team has not discussed whether the women will wear shorts or bikini bottoms, Lio told The Post.

“Hopefully we will see a new set of rules by then,” Lio said.

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