Could the Cincinnati Bengals' game in London next season be in jeopardy?
According to ESPN, two members of British Parliament sent a letter earlier this month to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, urging the league to change Washington Redskins' name or, "at the minimum send a different team to our country to represent the sport, one that does not promote a racial slur."
Washington is Cincinnati's opponent in next season's NFL "International Series" game on Oct. 30 at Wembley Stadium.
In a Feb. 2 letter, members Ruth Smeeth and Ian Austin wrote, "We were shocked to learn the derivation of the term 'R*dskin,' pertaining as it does to the historic abuse of native Americans. The exportation of this racial slur to the UK this autumn, when the Washington team is due to play, directly contravenes the values that many in Britain have worked so hard to instill."
ESPN says a league spokesman confirmed the NFL received the letter.
"A team's name is a club decision," Brian McCarthy, the NFL's vice president of communications, replied to ESPN in an email. "We recognize there are strong views on both sides of this."
According to ESPN's Mike Wise, Smeeth and Austin were among members of Parliament who met in January with representatives of the Change the Mascot campaign, a Native American organization campaigning to have the Redskins choose a different name.
“We’re quite clear that sport is a vehicle for cultural change and celebration of what’s best about society rather than hate and division,” Smeeth told ESPN's Wise. “That’s why bringing in new racial slurs to Britain is unacceptable. This is not the way we would want Native Americans introduced to our country.”
The site of the game, Wembley Stadium, "has strict regulations against the use of racial slurs and chanting at its events and is owned by the Football Association which has taken a strong stance against racism in sports," the letter states.
A Wembley spokesperson confirmed to ESPN the issue over Washington's name is now being discussed internally.
The league has scheduled 17 games in London since 2007 -- including three per season starting in 2014.
The Bengals and Redskins have never played in the NFL’s “International Series,” two of just 12 (out of 32) teams yet to travel to London.
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