The headline sponsor of the Washington Redskins, FedEx, has called on the American football team to change its controversial name.
The Washington DC-based team has faced repeated calls to change its name, which is considered offensive to Native Americans.
After pressure from investors, FedEx on Thursday added its voice to the calls.
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” it said in a statement.
At the turn of the millennium, FedEx paid $205m (£165m) for the naming rights to the Redskins’ 82,000-seat stadium in Maryland. The deal expires in 2025.
But that is not the delivery giant’s only tie to the team. The boss and founder of FedEx, Frederick Smith also owns a minority stake in the Redskins.
The team has come under sustained pressure to change its name for decades.
Six years ago FedEx shareholders voted to allow the Redskins to keep its name after the shipping giant received a complaint from the Wisconsin-based Oneida Indian tribe.
But as firms assess their stance on issues around race, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, FedEx has now called for the team to rebrand.
Last week, 87 investment firms and shareholders wrote to FedEx, along with fellow Redskins’ sponsors Nike and PepsiCo, calling on the firms to sever ties with the Redskins, according to AdWeek.
“‘Redskins’ remains a de-humanising word characterizing people by skincolour and a racial slur with hateful connotations,” the letter written to PepsiCo said.
As of Thursday, Nike’s website did not display any Redskins merchandise. The Washington-based team was the only one of the 32 NFL teams no longer listed in the site’s index. Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the past, the team’s owner Dan Snyder has remained steadfast on keeping the name, calling it a “badge of honour”.
The team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.