Exeter Chiefs, a rugby union club playing in the English Premier League, are set to change their name and logo after consulting their supporters.
The Premiership Rugby Club – based in Exeter, Devon, England – posted a statement on its website Thursday, November 25, following the club’s annual general meeting the day before, where concerns were raised about the lack of respect for the current name and logo to Indigenous cultures in North America.
After consulting and listening in depth to members of the Exeter Rugby Club at Wednesday’s Annual General Meeting, the Board of Directors will now step aside and consult further with its stakeholders, partners and professional advisers to decide on what the club will do next in terms of the club’s branding.
The board of directors will meet in the coming weeks to make a decision.
For the moment, the club will not make any further comment.
– Statement from the Chiefs of Exeter club
British media outlet The Guardian reports that while no formal votes were taken at the meeting, 70% of emails received from fans on the issue supported a change.
Exeter Rugby Club was founded in 1871, but adopted the name “Chefs” in 1999 when he turned professional. However, the name may have been used informally since the 1930s.
In recent years, the club has come under pressure to change its branding from those who thought it was offensive to the indigenous peoples of North America – reflecting situations that unfolded in Washington DC, Cleveland and Edmonton.
In July 2020, a group of Exeter supporters started a petition calling for the abandonment of “the racist use of Native American imagery and branding”. By the end of that month, they had gathered 3,700 signatures and the support of the local Labor MP.
The clubs the board of directors responded saying they thought the club’s name and logo were “very respectful”. At the same time, however, they removed the club’s mascot “Big Chief” as they felt it “could be viewed as disrespectful”.
In October 2021, Premiership Rugby Club Wasps asked Exeter fans to visit not to wear native headdresses in their stadium, and even went so far as to call for a ban on headdresses throughout the league.
In an interview with The Guardian that same month, Exeter chairman Tony Rowe insisted that “there is nothing racist” about the club’s branding. “We are not trying to belittle anyone’s image or ancestry,” he said.
Courtesy photo BBC