CFL sponsor threatens to cut ties unless Edmonton changes team name


One of the sponsors of the Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Eskimos says it will cut ties with the team unless it changes its name.

Longtime sponsor Belairdirect, a car and home insurance company, said Tuesday the team’s name, which has been used since the late 19th century, is no longer appropriate.

“One of our core values is respect, which is founded on seeing diversity as a strength, being inclusive and collaborative,” the company said in a statement to CBC News.

“Guided by this value, in order for us to move forward and continue on with our partnership, we will need to see concrete action in the near future including a commitment to a name change.”

Belairdirect’s statement said the company has shared its position with the team.

A spokesperson within the Eskimos organization told CBC Sports the team was preparing an internal statement that would likely be released Wednesday.

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The threat from Belairdirect comes days after the Washington NFL team’s stadium sponsor FedEx, along with other sponsors, asked the team to change its name.

The team responded by launching a review of its name. Major League Baseball’s Cleveland team also said it will review its long-debated nickname.

In February, the Eskimos announced they were keeping their name, saying the team had conducted a year-long research process that involved Inuit leaders and community members across Canada. That study found “no consensus … to support a name change,” the team said.

Last Friday, the team reiterated that it would not change its name, but promised to increase its engagement with Inuit communities to evaluate their views on the CFL team’s name.

“We recognize that there has been increased attention to the name recently and we will ramp up our ongoing engagement with the Inuit communities to assess their views,” the CFL team said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks said they will continue to use their team name because it honours a Native American leader who has been an inspiration to generations.

 “The Chicago Blackhawks name and logo symbolizes an important and historic person, Black Hawk of Illinois’ Sac & Fox Nation, whose leadership and life has inspired generations of Native Americans, veterans and the public,” the NHL team said in a statement Tuesday. 

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