FedEx, a key corporate sponsor for the Washington Redskins, has asked the NFL franchise to change its name after being pressured by a group of investment firms who argued it is racist, the company said Thursday.
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“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx said in a statement to FOX Business.
A FedEx representative did not return a request for comment on whether the company would consider ending its business relationship with the Washington franchise if it does not comply. A Redskins representative did not immediately respond.
The request came one day after AdWeek reported that a group of 87 investment firms sent letters to three key team sponsors -- FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo. In the letters, the companies were asked to pressure Washington team officials to change the name and to cut ties with the organization if it did not comply. The investment firms have a combined worth of $620 billion.
Native American groups have long argued that the Redskins team name and mascot are racist. Redskins owner Dan Snyder has said for years that he would never change the name.
In 1999, FedEx became the naming rights partner for the Redskins' home stadium on a 27-year deal worth $205 million. FedEx Chairman and CEO Fred Smith holds an ownership stake in the NFL franchise.
Snyder is attempting to build a new stadium for the franchise near its former home at RFK Stadium, which is on federally owned land. Washington, D.C., lawmakers warned the stadium project cannot move forward unless the team name is changed.
“There is no viable path, locally or federally, for the Washington football team to return to Washington, D.C., without first changing the team name,” Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio told the Washington Post.
This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.