Key sponsors FedEx Corp have asked Washington Redskins to change their name, adding to renewed calls for the NFL franchise to be rebranded.
Calls for the club to dump the nickname have been made for decades, but a 2016 Washington Post poll of 504 Native Americans found that 90 per cent were not offended by the Redskins nickname. The poll included people in all 50 states and Washington, DC.
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The delivery services company has the naming rights to the team's Maryland stadium, known as FedExField, under a 27-year deal for which it paid US$205 million (A$296m) in 1999, according to media reports at the time.
"We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name," the company said on Thursday.
FedEx declined to elaborate on why it made the request.
The franchise began using the nickname in 1933, when it was based in Boston. Team owner George Preston Marshall moved the club to Washington in 1937.
Statue of former team owner removed
A statue of Marshall was removed from the Redskins' former Washington venue, RFK Stadium, on June 19 in the wake of protests seeking racial equality following the death of George Floyd. Under Marshall's leadership, the Redskins were the last NFL team to integrate, adding their first black players in 1962.
The company has another major tie to the Redskins, as its founder/chairman/CEO Frederick Smith is a minority owner of the football team.
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has said that the team will not change the nickname as long as he is in charge.
The club did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Kansas City Chiefs, who claimed the Vince Lombardi Trophy in February, faced similar criticism from Native American advocates in the run-up to their Super Bowl win.