Eskimos sponsor to end team deal if name isn’t changed

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EDMONTON – A major sponsor of the Canadian Football League team in Edmonton has said that he will end his dealings with the club unless the team name is changed. Belairdirect, a national auto and home insurance company, says the Eskimo nickname is no longer appropriate.

“At Belairdirect, one of our fundamental values ​​is respect, which is based on considering diversity as a strength, being inclusive and collaborative,” reads a statement from the company.

“In order for us to move forward and continue our partnership with the Edmonton Eskimos, we will have to see concrete steps in the near future, including a name change. We shared our position with the team. ”

Belairdirect is a long-time sponsor of the team’s 50/50 draw at the Commonwealth Stadium.

The team did not respond with an immediate comment, but said it was working on an answer.

On Friday, the Eskimos released a statement committing to continuing engagement with Inuit communities regarding the future of the team’s name.

“We recognize that the name has received increased attention recently and will intensify our ongoing engagement with Inuit communities to assess their opinions,” said the team.

Earlier this year, the club announced that it had no plans to change its name after a year-long research and engagement program with Canadian Inuit leaders.

“We are the most northerly team in the CFL and we want to continue to build our relationships with the Inuit community,” said Janice Agrios, chair of the team’s board of directors, in February.

“This is a very important initiative for us. ”

The team has faced increasing criticism of the team’s name, with Canada’s national Inuit organization saying the term and name are offensive.

THE SPONSORS RESPOND

CTV News contacted the 13 “first partners” currently listed on the team’s website. Four of them responded, including Belairdirect.

A spokesperson for TFB & Associates, the Canadian brand owners of tablet manufacturer Fisherman’s Friend, said the question was “something we are following closely.”

“We support the re-engagement of the Edmonton CFL team in discussions with Inuit communities and we look forward to the timely and respectful progress of these conversations and a positive outcome for all.” ”

Boston Pizza declined to comment, noting that it no longer sponsors the team, although it is listed on the site.

A spokesman for the chain said the decision to end its relationship with the club came “before recent events in society” and was part of a change in marketing strategy away from the sponsorships inherited from professional teams.

An employee of SportsInteraction, an online sports book, acknowledged the request from CTV News and said it had been forwarded to the company’s public relations team. CTV News has still not received a response.

The Brick, Molson Coors, Discount Car and Truck Rental, James H. Brown and Associates, Jiffy Lube, Save on Foods, Servus Credit Union, Telus and Tim Hortons did not respond to media inquiries.

CTV News also sought comments from the CFL, but has yet to receive a response. In the past, the league has said that the decision is up to the team.

TEAM NAME REVIEW

Last week, Washington Redskins of the National Football League announced that the team was undergoing a “thorough review” of its team name.

The team said recent events in the United States and comments from the community prompted the official review.

NFL uniform maker Nike removed the team’s equipment from its online store with retailers Wal-Mart and Target soon after.

FedEx, the title sponsor of the Redskins stadium in Landover, Maryland, said Thursday: “We have communicated to the Washington team our request to change the team name. ”

Also on Friday, the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball announced that they are also revising their team names.

“We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and assume our responsibility to advance social justice and equality,” said the team in a statement that came just hours after the team’s announcement. from the Washington NFL.

“Our organization fully recognizes that the name of our team is one of the most visible ways to connect with the community. ”

With files from the Associated Press

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