Washington Drops Racist Team Name, as Edmonton’s CFL Team Risks Losing Another Sponsor

Edmonton’s football team says it is reviewing its team name, after backlash from two major sponsors, Boston Pizza and Belairdirect.
July 13, 2020, 4:12pm
Washington Redskins
Washington's NFL team is changing its name after years of criticism. File photo by Patrick Semansky, Associated Press

In light of the announcement that Washington’s NFL team is retiring their name after 87 years, pressure is mounting from sponsors for Edmonton's CFL team to do the same.

In a statement issued Monday, the NFL team said they are retiring their name—widely considered a racist slur for Indigenous people—and logo as part of a review process.

The statement said owner Dan Snyder and Coach Ron Rivera are developing a new name and design “that will enhance the standing of our proud, tradition rich franchise and inspire our sponsors, fans, and community for the next 100 years.”

The move to retire the name comes after pressure from the team’s sponsors, including FedEx and Nike. Nike recently pulled all of the team’s merch from its website. FedEx is a key sponsor for the team, as they have naming rights on the Washington stadium.

Meanwhile, Boston Pizza announced it has cut ties with Edmonton.

“As part of a larger shift in our overall marketing strategy, Boston Pizza recently ended its sponsorship of Edmonton’s CFL team,” Boston Pizza tweeted in response to a tweet asking what the company was doing to take a stand against racism.

VICE has reached out to Edmonton for comment and will update this story with their response.

Insurance company Belairdirect, another sponsor, said in a statement it wants the team to drop its name.

“In order for us to move forward and continue on with our partnership with the Edmonton Eskimos, we will need to see concrete action in the near future including a name change. We have shared our position with the team,” the company said.

In response, Edmonton said they are reviewing their name.

“We will be seeking further input from the Inuit, our partners and other stakeholders to inform our decisions moving forward. We’ll continue to listen carefully and with an open mind. We intend to complete our review as quickly as possible and will provide an update on these discussions by the end of this month,” the team said in a statement issued July 8.

The team previously said it would be keeping its name following consultations because “there was no consensus among the Inuit people and considerable support for the Eskimos name among the Inuit in various parts of northern Canada.”

The team has not released details surrounding the consultation process, including who was involved.

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