Washington Redskins NFL team to change name and logo after decades-long accusations of racism

The NFL's Washington Redskins will change their name Source: AP

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

The National Football League’s Washington team will retire its ‘Redskins’ name and logo following mounting pressure from investors and decades of criticism they are racist and offensive to Native Americans.

Owner Dan Snyder has been a boyhood fan of the team and previously vowed to never change its name, which it was given in 1933 while still based in Boston.

But amid renewed pressure brought by protests over police brutality and racism, Mr Snyder and the team’s management announced a “thorough review” of the 87-year-old name earlier this month.

In a statement on Monday, the franchise confirmed its image would be changed when that review is completed.

"We are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review," the statement said.

"Dan Snyder and head coach Ron 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."

It is not clear when a new name or logo will be decided on.

FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo were among the companies in recent weeks to call for the franchise's name to be changed. Retail giants Amazon, Target and Walmart also removed Redskins merchandise from their websites last week in protest. 

Native American advocates have long criticised the name they call a "dictionary-defined racial slur", and just last week, more than a dozen leaders and organisations wrote to the NFL Commissioner demanding an end to it.

'About time'

The move has been met with praise from Native Americans.

"This is a good decision for the country - not just Native peoples - since it closes a painful chapter of denigration and disrespect toward Native Americans and other people of colour," Oneida Nation representative and founder of the Change the Mascot campaign, Ray Halbritter, said in a statement.

"Future generations of Native youth will no longer be subjected to this offensive and harmful slur every Sunday during football season."

Deb Haaland, one of the only Native American women in Congress, said in a tweet it was "about time" the name was changed.

Defenders of the Redskins moniker cite 87 years of tradition and that the current logo was designed by a Native American in 1971.

The Washington NFL team is not the only sports franchise in the US to recently announce a review into its name, with Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians also doing so earlier this month.

President Donald Trump has made it clear he is not supportive of the name changes.

Last week, he tweeted it was a shame that "two fabled sports franchises" were looking at changing their names "in order to be politically correct".

Additional reporting by AAP.

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