Montreal (AFP) – The Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Eskimos on Tuesday announced they were ending use of the team name amid criticism that the moniker is racist, following in the footsteps of US NFL team the Washington Redskins.
The team’s board of directors “has made the decision to discontinue the use of the word ‘Eskimo’ in the team’s name,” its management said in an online statement.
Use of the term “Eskimo” has been deemed offensive by indigenous peoples and was criticized by one of the team’s sponsors, insurance company Belairdirect, which has urged the team to change its name, according to local media.
“We feel it is important to make this change in response to the findings of our recent engagement and research,” said Janice Agrios, chair of the board of directors.
The team, from the province of Alberta in western Canada, launched a study three years ago, “with an emphasis on listening to Inuit communities,” the statement said.
The team, which has won 14 CFL Grey Cup championship games, will temporarily be referred to as the “Edmonton Football Team” until a new name is chosen.
The news comes after the Washington DC football team announced last week it would be dropping “Redskins” from its name, following years of debate over what has been criticized as a racist slur against Native Americans.
Several other US professional sports teams, like the Kansas City Chiefs football team and the Atlanta Braves baseball team, are also facing mounting pressure to change their names.