Beach handball: ‘It’s shocking to have to pay to not play in our pants’

image copyrightTonje Lerstadimage captionTonje Lerstad says her team were star-struck when Pink showed her support for their decision to rebel against handball uniform rules

From getting in trouble for refusing to wear a bikini, to getting support from a Grammy-winning artist, it's been quite a week for Norway's women's beach handball team.

The team decided to wear shorts instead of bikini bottoms at the European Beach Handball Championships in a move which led them to being fined £1,295.

"It's so shocking that we have to pay for not playing in our panties," Tonje Lerstad tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

But there was more shock round the corner for the 24-year-old goalkeeper and her fellow players.

She says they were all "star-struck" when Pink tweeted her support for their decision – the singer even offered to pay the fine herself.

"It's really crazy. We were shocked but it's such an important message and we appreciate it," Tonje says.

image copyrightJozo Cabraja / kolektiffimage captionThe European Handball Federation said Norway's shorts broke uniform regulations

Tonje says "things got very crazy" after the players made their stand over the uniform rules.

She wasn't surprised they were fined – they'd been warned that would happen – but she calls the punishment "incredible".

"It's really stupid, but we've just got to fight on."

Pink said in response to Tonje's team's fine that the European Handball Federation (EHF) should be "fined for sexism".

"I'm very proud of the Norwegian female beach handball team for protesting sexist rules about their uniform," she added in her tweet.

The EHF said the fine was imposed because of "improper clothing".

  • Pink offers to pay handball bikini bottoms fine
  • Bikini rule 'putting women off' beach handball
  • Norway fined for 'improper clothing'

True to Pink's track Get The Party Started, the team began to celebrate after her tweet to her 30 million followers.

"We sent it in our group chat and everybody was like: 'Wow, this is sick.' It was so weird," says Tonje.

Pink won't actually need to pay the fine as the Norwegian Handball Federation (NHF) says it's prepared to do so.

"She doesn't have to pay but she can give us some tickets and we can meet up in a concert in our shorts," Tonje jokes.

"There have been so many people asking to pay the money so maybe we should just make a big bank account…"

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
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

The team plans to make the most of the attention their rebellion has had.

The NHF says: "Together we will continue to fight to change the rules for clothing, so that players can play in the clothes they are comfortable with."

Tonje adds: "We've had so much response from the other teams, so I can't believe anything else other than they have to change [the rules] next year."

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tonje Lerstad (@tonjelerstad)

Her next game will be at the World Championships.

When asked if she plans to continue wearing shorts, she says: "Yes, absolutely."

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *