FedEx, a key corporate sponsor for the Washington Redskins, has asked the NFL franchise to change its name after being pressured by investment firms and shareholders, who argued it is a racist team name.
The company said it has reached out to the NFL franchise about a change to the teams name, “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the name,” FedEx said in a statement to FOX Business.
The move comes a 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 firms asked the companies to pressure the Washington team officials to change the name and to cut ties with the franchise if it did not comply.
The investment firms have a combined worth of $620billion in assets, saying the companies were not living up to their stated opposition to racial injustice.
The letter to FedEx, investors criticized the company for owning the naming rights to FedExField in Landover, Maryland, where the team plays.
Fedex released a statement on June 1, condemning racism and supporting the demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice following the death of George Floyd.
“There is absolutely no place for racism or unequal treatment anywhere, and we must unequivocally speak out and reject it when we see it,” the company said,
Although, investors said that FedEx’s continued partnership with the football team amounts to “association with and facilitation of the racism inherent in the name and logo.”
The investors said that their continued sponsorship with the team “runs contrary to the very sentiments expressed by the company.”
In the letter addressed to Nike, the investors said for years they’ve tried to raise the issue to Nike, but to “little avail.”
“But in light of the Black Lives Matter movement that has focused the world’s attention on centuries of systemic racism, we are witnessing a fresh outpouring of opposition to the team name.”
“Therefore, it is time for Nike to meet the magnitude of this moment,” read the letter.
“To make their opposition to the racist team name clear, and to take tangible and meaningful steps to expert pressure on the team to cease using it.”
For years, Native American groups have 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 $205million.
Fedex Chairman and CEO Fred Smith holds an ownership stake in the NFL franchise.