Exeter Chiefs retain name but ditch mascot over 'harmful imagery'

London (AFP) –


English Premiership rugby union club Exeter have revealed they will retain their Chiefs branding but will ditch their club mascot after complaints about its "harmful imagery".

An Exeter supporters' online petition had gathered more than 3,500 signatures, calling for an end to the club's "harmful imagery and branding".

Two more petitions have been launched arguing against any change however, with club fans split over whether the Chiefs Native American imagery carries offence.

But now after a lengthy board meeting on Wednesday, Exeter have opted to retain their Chiefs moniker and retire their 'Big Chief' mascot.

"The board took the view that the use of the Chiefs logo was in fact highly respectful," an Exeter statement said.

"It was noted over the years we have had players and coaches from around the world with a wide range of nationalities and cultures.

"At no time have any players, coaches or their families said anything but positive comments about the branding or culture that exists at the club.

"The one aspect which the board felt could be regarded as disrespectful was the club's mascot 'Big Chief' and as a mark of respect have decided to retire him."

The issue of offensive team branding has also been a hot topic in the United States, with the shocking death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer adding more fuel to the debate.

The NFL's Washington Redskins recently dropped their badge and branding, taking on the temporary new name of Washington Football Team after growing criticism in recent years.

Reigning Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs have been criticised for using Native American imagery and the "tomahawk chop" chant at Arrowhead Stadium.

Major League baseball's Cleveland Indians dropped their mascot in 2018, later indicating they could also change their name.