NFL team’s $300m sponsor pressures name change

The title sponsor of the Washington Redskins’ stadium wants the NFL team to change its name.

Amid the national debate over race, pressure has been mounting on the NFL team to immediately abandon the mascot name ‘Redskins’ which is called a “dictionary-defined racial slur” by experts and advocates.

“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx said in a statement Thursday.

The company paid the team $US205 million ($A296 million) in 1999 for the naming rights to FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.

In addition to the stadium name and sponsorship agreement, FedEx CEO Frederik Smith is a minority owner.

However majority owner Daniel Snyder has consistently shown no indications he’ll change the name since buying the team in 1999, despite growing pressure in recent years.

But the financial pressure of sponsors may force him to finally change his mind.

Investors this week wrote to FedEx, PepsiCo and other sponsors asking them to request a change. FedEx is believed to be the first to take action.

On Thursday night, Nike appeared to remove all Redskins gear from its online store. The other 31 NFL teams were listed and a search for “Redskins” came up with no results. Nike did not immediately respond to an email message seeking comment.

Asked about Snyder changing the name, a spokesman said recently the team had no comment.

The team last week removed the name of racist founder George Preston Marshall from its Ring of Fame at FedEx Field, and a monument to him was removed from the site of the old RFK Stadium.

Washington D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser also said the name was an “obstacle” to the team returning to the District.

The team’s lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027, and it is still talking to Washington, Virginia and Maryland about building a new stadium.

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