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American Football

Washington Redskins to review name following sponsor pressure

Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

16:25 3 Jul 2020

The Washington Redskins have launched a review of the team's name. 

It follows a request from the NFL side's stadium sponsors FedEx to change the name of the franchise.

FedEx paid the Redskins $205million (€182million) in 1999 for the naming rights of their Landover, Maryland stadium.

"We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name," a brief statement from the shipping company said on Thursday.

The requests for a name change pre-date the FedEx statement by many years, but have intensified in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The team were originally named the Boston Redskins in 1932, before a move from Massachusetts to the United States capital.

The 'Redskins' moniker was bestowed upon them by owner George Preston Marshall.

Marshall was a staunch supporter of racial segregation, and infamously said of his team in the 1940's, "We'll start signing Negroes when the Harlem Globetrotters start signing whites."

A memorial to Marshall outside RFK Stadium was removed last month.

Fawn Sharp is president of the National Congress of American Indians, and she penned an open letter demanding an urgent change of the franchise's name.

"Just as you would never play for the Washington [insert any other racial slur],” she argued, players shouldn’t play for a “team branded with a racial slur against Native Americans.”

"The racial slur can no longer be removed by the complicit, indifferent, tone-deaf ownership of the franchise, because the stain they have fixed onto their own name and enterprises is now permanent.

"It is an insult that can no longer be retracted, a sin that can no longer be erased.

"Since it’s too late to give the team name up, it’s time for it to be taken."

In a statement on Friday, Washington owner Dan Snyder bowed to pressure from sponsors, saying the team name will undergo a "thorough review'.

He says the review formalises discussions that have already taken place with the NFL.

Redskins statement: 

In light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community, the Washington Redskins are announcing the team will undergo a thorough review of the team's name.

This review formalizes (sic) the initial discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks.

Dan Snyder, Owner of the Washington Redskins, stated, "This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization (sic), sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field."

Ron Rivera, Head Coach of the Washington Redskins remarked, "This issue is of personal importance to me and I look forward to working closely with Dan Snyder to make sure we continue the mission of honoring (sic) and supporting Native Americans and our Military."

We believe this review can and will be conducted with the best interest of all in mind.

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