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NFL's Redskins confirm they will change their name after sponsor pressure over racism

A new name will not be announced immediately because of ongoing trademark issues.

The franchise launched a 'review' of the name recently.
The franchise launched a 'review' of the name recently.
Image: Gregory Fisher

Updated Jul 13th 2020, 2:21 PM

THE NFL’S WASHINGTON Redskins have officially confirmed that they will change their name following pressure from sponsors over a moniker widely criticised as a racist slur against Native Americans.

Team owner Dan Snyder had long resisted calls to make the change but came under renewed scrutiny as the United States saw massive rallies and campaigns erupt against racial injustice following the death in May of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man in police custody.

Native American leaders had written to the NFL commissioner last week demanding an immediate change of the team’s name, logo and mascot, this following Washington’s announcement that they would conduct a formal review of the matter 10 days ago.

And on Monday, Washington confirmed they would change their name in a statement released on their website.

“On July 3rd, we announced the commencement of a thorough review of the team’s name,” the statement read. “That review has begun in earnest. As part of this process, we want to keep our sponsors, fans and community apprised of our thinking as we go forward.

Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review. Dan Snyder and Coach [Ron] Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design approach that will enhance the standing of our proud, tradition rich franchise and inspire our sponsors, fans and community for the next 100 years.

The Washington Post reported that the team had a preferred choice for a replacement name, but were working through trademark issues surrounding the tag.

Head coach Ron Rivera, one of only a handful of minority head coaches in the NFL, said earlier this month that he believed the new name be respectful of Native American culture and the military.

The team was established in 1932 as the Boston Braves and took on its current name in 1933 before moving to Washington DC four years later.

It announced a “thorough review” of its name on 3 July, citing “recent events around our country,” the day after FedEx demanded to change the name.

The review prompted a defence of the current name by American president Donald Trump.

“They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington Redskins & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct,” Trump tweeted last week.

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The reported change would end years of opposition by Snyder, who bought the team in 1999.

“We’ll never change the name,” he told USA Today in 2013. “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

Intense pressure from the team’s most powerful corporate partners and sponsors apparently helped force the move — led by FedEx, which purchased the naming rights to the team’s stadium through to 2025 for $205 million and confirmed earlier this month it had requested the change.

“We believe it is time for a change,” PepsiCo had said, while Nike removed the team’s merchandise and gear from its website.

Bank of America said as a sponsor, it had “encouraged the team to change the name.”

The team did not immediately respond to comment.

© – AFP 2020 

- Updated with Redskins’ official statement at 14:21

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