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The Washington Football Team will play the Cincinnati Bengals on October 30, 2016 at the Wembley Stadium in London. Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation representative and prominent leader in the campaign to change the name, strongly opposes the decision.

Washington NFL Team to Play at Anti-Racism Stadium in London

Gabriela Maya Bernadett

The Washington NFL team controversy is going global.

On October 30, 2016 the team is slated to play the Cincinnati Bengals at Wembley Stadium in London, England.

The event, which is expected to be a sell-out, is meant to attract more British fans to American football with the hopes of eventually opening up a British-based franchise team.

But, naturally, this event is not without controversy.

Wembley stadium has a list of regulations that ban “racial, homophobic or discriminatory abuse, chanting or harassment” and it also observes the Football (Offences) Act 1991 which prohibits racial chanting in sports stadiums.

Ray Halbritter, representative of the Oneida Nation and prominent leader in the movement to change the Washington NFL team name, strongly condemned the decision.

“At a time when the United States is desperately trying to fortify its international relationships, the NFL has decided to go on the world stage and promote an ugly racial epithet slurring indigenous people all over the world,” Halbritter said in a statement. “This is not only offensive, but also at odds with American interests across the globe at this critical time. We need to show respect to our foreign allies – the NFL choosing to slur people of color at a high-profile international event does the opposite.”

The game is part of the NFL National Series, which began in 2007 with the purpose of trying to promote the uniquely American sport abroad. Since its inception, the series has been hosted at Wembley Stadium.

In 2012, Wembley hosted the launch of an international anti-racism partnership between FIFA (soccer’s international governing body) and Kick It Out, an organization dedicated to ending racism in sports.

Hosting a team whose very name is a dictionary-defined racial slur poses a challenge to the stadium’s efforts of equality and inclusion. It remains to be seen how the stadium will choose to respond to the on-going controversy.

Jane Merrick, a columnist with London-based The Independent, on Tuesday skewered the slated arrival of the Washington NFL team, and called on the British Broadcasting Company [BBC] to refuse to use the racial slur in its broadcast of the game this fall.

“The proud history of anti-racism in British sport must not be allowed to die on 30 October,” Merrick wrote.

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tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
Interesting…it only took 8 weeks for the someone to finally mention the November 2015 announcement. Redskins to Play Bengals in London By Tom Garrett  @TheAxisOfEgo on Nov 25, 2015, 10:13a 76 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Football competing with another contentious US President Election Date of November 8th, 2016.

bullbear's picture
Submitted by bullbear on
Holy moly! Could this be a blood (very) good chance for Native Americans to bridge the gap of the ignorant? If we cannot reach the common sense of NFL owner and general manager about the inappropriate use of "r------s" perhaps we can use this international sports stage to speak to the foreign countries and bring our proud heritage, tradition, and culture to the forefront. Off the top of my head, I would say that as tribal nations, we have 9 months to plan a significant gathering to England. No one is going to do this for us. What will it take to get there? Funding, of course. We talk to every corner of the nation instantaneously and should be able to wrangle the dollars loose in the first 4-6 months. Airfare, lodging, and of course those all important meals. Gathering of Nations, how much will you kick in? Can we call upon gaming tribes to assist? Pow-wow season is about to kick off which could find ways to raise some funds. When you really think about it, this could also be chalked up to a grand cultural exchange. How many Native Americans have gone to see Buckingham Palace with its queens collection, Palace of Westminster with Big Ben? There are several museums in the London area which might be willing to host Native American cultural exchange lectures/discussions, song and dance. After all, the British have a well-grounded anti-racist history and this could bring another facet to protesting at the football stadiums. Ms. Jane Merrick of "The Independent", can we depend on you to be a resource? Your voice and words to the British Broadcasting Company carry positive messages and has rippled across the waters to many tribal nations in the U.S. Our heritage. Our future. We are many, but we are one.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
I wouldn't hold my breath that the British will uphold the rules they've adopted. After all, we can't depend on our own countrymen to act on our behalf, how can we expect the country that begat our imperialistic colonizers to do so? Hell, we can't even ensure the support of a whole bushel of apples!.

tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
Those Brits....and to think THEY still hold the "captive" body of the much mentioned, revered (politically) Pocohantas (born 1595 - died March 1617 in Gravesend, England). If the cries and chants and treatments (by the wannabes: white & non-indian, those who 'identify', etc.) are REAL and TRUE and loud, then their demands SHOULD BE made for the return of body of Pocohantas to the Americas for what is "right". Why not? The faux Columbus haters go back to 1492, the faux European haters go back 1600, the faux Brit-American haters go back to 1700s, the faux US haters to back to 1920s. Meanwhile, in REAL day-to-day, events, peoples (indian or not) work, try to work, try to succeed, and try to be happy. I look forward to the haters (white progressives and wannabes) being displayed on the World-International scene - if the US-World even has time for it)!