Critics of the current name allege it is offensive to native Americans and should be changed. The controversy has been raging for years but the recent Black Lives Matter protests, leading to a greater focus on race, have increased the pressure.
In an official statement the Washington Redskins said: “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 formalises the internal discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks.
“We believe this review can and will be conducted with the best interest of all in mind.”
The Washington Redskins can trace their history back to 1932 when they played in Boston as the Boston Braves.
The Washington Redskins NFL team has announced it will review its name
Washington Redskins players pictured last year
Shortly after the team changed their name and relocated to the United States capital.
Since 1997 the team has played at the 82,000 capacity FedExField.
A 2020 study conduced at UC Berkeley found 49 percent of native Americans find the ‘Redskins’ name offensive, rising to 67 percent amongst those who regularly take part in tribal events.
The review announcement was welcomed by Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins.
Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys players grappling at a game last year
He 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 organisation, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field.”
It was also supported by Ron Rivera, Washington Redskins head coach, who commented: “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 honouring and supporting Native Americans and our Military.”
Pressure on the team to review its name increased after its main sponsor, FedEx, requested a change.
As part of a deal that expires in 2025 FedEx have agreed to pay $ 205m (£165m) for the naming rights to the Redskins stadium.
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The Washington Redskins FedEx stadium
Protesters demand the Washington Redskins change their name
Last week saw 87 investment firms and shareholder groups write to FedEx as well as Nike and PepsiCo, two other Redskins sponsors, requesting a name change.
They said: “’Redskins’ remains a dehumanising word, characterising people by skin colour and a racial slur with hateful connotations.”
Previously Mr Snyder, the owner, had rejected any name change terming Redskins a “badge of honour”.
PepsiCo, another of the Redskins main sponsors, have called for the team to adopt a new name.
A spokesman for the company said: “We have been in conversations with the NFL and Washington management for a few weeks about this issue.
“We believe it is time for a change.
“We are pleased to see the steps the team announced today, and we look forward to continued partnership.”
Campaigners demand the Washington Redskins change their logo and mascot
According to a CNN report potential new names include Washington Redtails, Washington Warriors and Washington Monuments.
There is also controversy over the team’s official logo which depicts a native American.
Attention to racial controversies in the United States increased sharply after the killing of George Floyd in late May triggered Black Lives Matter protests across the country.