Washington Redskins to retire controversial team name following review

Redskins stadium sign next to FedEx logo Image copyright Getty Images

The Washington Redskins American football team has said it will retire its name, long criticised as racist.

In a statement, the team said it would “be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of a review” demanded by its sponsors.

Its major sponsors recently threatened to pull funding from the NFL team unless it considered renaming itself.

The Washington DC-based team has faced years of pressure over a name seen as offensive to Native Americans.

Team owner Dan Synder had been a boyhood fan of the team – which was named the Redskins in 1933 when it was still based in Boston – and had vowed to never change the moniker of the 87-year-old team.

But amid protests over police brutality and racism, major sponsors FedEx, Nike, Pepsi and Bank of America all called on Mr Snyder to consider finally changing the name.

Last week, Amazon, Walmart and Target, Nike and and other retail stores removed team merchandise from their websites. ESPN also said it would stop using the team logo, which depicts a Native American man.

The announcement does not immediately change the name of the team, and a new one must be chosen before the 2020 season begins in September. The team’s official website maintains the current team name, as does the team’s official Twitter handle.

Some names that have been suggested as replacements include the Washington Senators; the Washington Warriors; and the Washington Red Tails.

The NFL team is not the first Washington DC sports franchise to change it name amid shifting cultural attitudes.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The name and logo will both be changed

In 1995, the NBA’s Washington Bullets were renamed the Wizards after the team owner said he had become uncomfortable with the name’s violent overtones.

The Redskins moved to Washington DC in 1937 and was founded by businessman George Person Marshall, who believed in racial segregation.

They were the last team to allow black players onto the team, and only did so after the government threatened to revoke the lease on their stadium in 1962.

Last month, a statue of Marshall was removed from the stadium’s grounds after it was vandalised.

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