Washington Redskins confirm plan to change controversial name

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent

NFL club Washington Redskins have promised to change their controversial name and logo, bowing to recent pressure from sponsors and decades of criticism that they are offensive to Native Americans.

The franchise, which was originally based in Boston, announced the decision after a "thorough review" that followed pressure form its sponsors.

The name and logo has long been seen as offensive to Native Americans.

The franchise said in a statement on Monday: "On July 3rd, we announced the commencement of a thorough review of the team's name."

ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent with the latest from Washington

It added: "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 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."

Both the name and the logo of the Washington Redskins will be changed. Credit: AP

The move came less than two weeks after owner Dan Snyder, a boyhood fan of the team who once declared he would never get rid of the name, launched a “thorough review” amid pressure from sponsors.

FedEx, Nike, Pepsi and Bank of America all lined up against the name, which was given to the franchise in 1933 when the team was still based in Boston. The team said it is “retiring” the name and logo and that Snyder and coach Ron Rivera are working closely to develop a new moniker and design.

The announcement came on the old letterhead with the Redskins name because the team technically retains it until a new one is chosen and approved.

Native American advocates and experts have long criticised the name they call a “dictionary-defined racial slur.”

Over a dozen Native leaders and organisations wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week demanding an immediate end to Washington’s use of the name.

Mr Goodell, who has fielded questions on the topic for years, said he supported the review.

Protests against the name predate Snyder buying the team in 1999, and, until now, he had shown no willingness to consider a change.

Strong words from sponsors — including a company run by a minority stakeholder of the team — changed the equation.

The team recently started cutting ties with racist founder George Preston Marshall, removing his name from the Ring of Fame and renaming the lower bowl at FedEx Field for the team’s first Black player, late Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell.

Marshall, who renamed the Boston Braves the Redskins in 1933 and moved the team to DC four years later, was a segregationist and the last NFL owner to integrate his team.

The current logo shows the profile of a red-faced Native American with feathers in his hair.