Members of the British Parliament in the United Kingdom have joined the swelling number of people calling for the Washington NFL team to change its offensive name.
On February 2, Ian Austin and Ruth Smeeth, members of the British Labour Party, wrote a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expressing their concern over the Washington football team’s upcoming game in London against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“While the expansion of the NFL and American Football to the UK is something to be commended,” the letter reads, “we have serious concerns about the league’s exportation of a racial slur that comes alongside this.”
The Washington football team has been under increasing pressure in recent years by countless Native American organizations, tribes, activists, and allies to change its name. Team owner, Dan Snyder, is currently appealing a 2014 decision that stripped the team of its trademarks.
In January, Ray Halbritter, Representative of the Oneida Indian Nation who helped launch the Change the Mascot campaign, travelled to London to brief the media and elected officials on the issue there.
Amanda Blackhorse, a defendent in Pro-Football, Inc. v. Blackhorse, told ICTMN on Thursday that the NFL and the Washington NFL team should be "embarrassed."
"This team, the NFL, has been so accustomed to their own racism that it takes other countries to point it out to them," she said.
Blackhorse added she hopes Parliament will, if required, block the team from entering their country.
"That would be huge," she said. "The United States, we pride our selves on civil rights and justice for everyone, but yet the first peoples of this country don’t even have the basic respect … that we deserve."
According to an article in ESPN, the NFL’s Vice President of Communications, Brian McCarthy, commented on the letter by simply noting that "a team's name is a club decision. We recognize there are strong views on both sides of this."
Halbritter and Jackie Pata, Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians, praised the letter in a joint statement, writing that “it is heartening to see leading officials in Britain demonstrating their commitment to fighting for equality and opposing racism in U.S. sports, just as they have historically in the UK. Perpetuating the slurring of people of color runs counter to American and British ideals of respect and tolerance.”
Austin and Smeeth end their letter by requesting that the NFL either change the Washington team name or send another team in its place, one that “does not promote a racial slur.”
The game is scheduled for October 30, 2016.
Culture Editor Simon Moya-Smith contributed to this report.