CFL's Edmonton team losing Eskimos nickname

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Eskimos will change their name.

The Canadian Football League team announced the decision Tuesday, following a decision by Washington's NFL team to do the same.

Teams across sports have been under increasing pressure to drop racist or stereotypical names. Critics say the Edmonton team's name is a derogatory, colonial-era term for Inuit.

The team said in a release that it will begin "a comprehensive engagement process" on a new name. In the meantime, the club will use the names EE Football Team and Edmonton Football Team.

Edmonton team president Chris Presson said in a video conference that the club wants to keep its double-E logo, as well as its green and gold colors.

In February, the Edmonton club announced that it was keeping the name following yearlong research that involved Inuit leaders and community members across Canada. The club said it received "no consensus" during that review.

On July 8, Edmonton promised to speed up another review of its name and provide an update by the end of the month. In that statement, the club noted that "a lot has happened" since its decision in February.

One of the team's sponsors, national car and home insurance provider Belairdirect, announced a day earlier that it was rethinking its relationship with the team because of the name. Other sponsors also said they would welcome a review of the name.

All this happened as the NFL's Washington team said it would undergo a thorough review of its name. A similar announcement was made by MLB's Cleveland Indians.

It is unclear when Edmonton will play its first game with a new name. The CFL in June postponed the start of its 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there is no guarantee that the league will play this year.

There have been repeated calls in the past for the Edmonton team to change its name. In 2015, Canada's national Inuit organization said it was time for a change.

"It isn't right for any team to be named after an ethnic group," said Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which represents Canada's 60,000 Inuit people. Obed has said that Inuit people are not mascots.

Although American Inuit continue to use the word Eskimo, Canada's northern people left that name behind about the same time they began negotiating their land claim in the 1970s.

Founded in 1949, the Edmonton team has won the Grey Cup 14 times, second only to the Toronto Argonauts' total of 17.