Exeter Chiefs under pressure to change 'racist branding' after petition reaches nearly 3000 signatures

  • Report by Sports Correspondent Cari Davies


Club bosses are set to make a decision on the branding of the Exeter Chiefs rugby team today (Wednesday 29 July) following calls to drop its "harmful" imagery of Native American peoples.

A petition set up by Exeter Chiefs supporters calling for the club's 'racist use of Native American imagery and branding' to be dropped has gained nearly 3000 signatures.

Over the last 20 years Exeter Chiefs have built their brand around Indigenous Peoples imagery. It is in their name, logo, mascot, chants and memorabilia.

Campaigners say the imagery used in the branding is offensive Credit: ITV News

LeAndra Nephin, who now lives in the UK, is of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska: "It basically reduces us down to a stereotype, there are over 562 tribal nations through out the United States.

"Not every tribal nation uses the headdress. This is very reductionist and homogenises us as people."

It's harming me, it's harming my people, this isn't a fantasy, we're not mythological creatures.

LeAndra Nephin

Tony Perry is of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma: "Why is it okay to use imagery of native mascots, when you wouldn't do that for people of African decent?

"We as a society would not accept that. A lot of people, in the UK in particular, don't know we're still there."

Season ticket holder, Alix Burhouse, is part of the recently formed campaign group Exeter Chiefs For Change.

She says: "The main aim really is to see Exeter Chiefs drop the Indigenous Peoples imagery that they're using for their branding and the logo, and the mascot.

"And to make sure people are more educated as to the effect that cultural appropriation has on the communities that it's harming."

Exeter Chiefs mascot Credit: ITV News

Ben Jenkins is also part of the campaign group and a lifelong supporter of the club.

He says in recent seasons he has stopped wearing branded merchandise.

We've got tailor made imagery, if we want to go down that route. We have our own rich history of Celtic tribe, so we could still call the clubs the Chiefs but we could use that to honour our local history.

Ben Jenkins, Exeter Chiefs for Change campaigner

Two counter petitions support the club's imagery saying it is about respect and honour to indigenous people.

Mark Vincent, who started one counter petition, says the branding was 'chosen as a symbol of strength, power, and honour'. More than 3,000 people have signed.

Ian Dunstan's petition says: "Exeter Chiefs fans wear their replica shirts and merchandise with pride of their team, and all that goes with it." He has had more than 2,000 signatures.

Exeter Chiefs have decided not to comment but say they are due to discuss the issue as part of their board meeting today (Wednesday 29 July).