Mounting calls for Premiership side to undergo full rebrand amid fierce racism row
In recent days, calls have been mounting for English Premiership side Exeter Chiefs to undergo a complete rebranding following mounting criticism of its image online.
The Devonshire club shows a Native American Chief on it’s crest
The Chiefs introduced the branding in 1999 of a Native American in head-dress as the club logo.
They also have a mascot called Big Chief, a Native American Indian character wearing Exeter Chiefs kit and holding an inflatable tomahawk.
Swathes of users on Twitter have taken to the platform to call out the Devon club on its current branding as cultural appropriation.
The side, currently sitting on top of the Gallagher Premiership, have embraced the brand image of a Native American on their club crest.
This comes as the most recent high-profile debate in rugby to rage around issues of race and cultural appropriation after last weeks fierce debate over England fans use of the song Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.
Exeter have embraced the Native American chief in all aspects of their branding
Now available to pre-order from the Trading Post online!
— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) June 19, 2020
In recent days, calls for the Devonshire club to axe the Native American Chief from their branding grew, with some calling the club’s use of the image as ‘racist’ with ‘no thought of the social and psychological consequences’.
Here’s what users have posted on Twitter recently…
@EnglandRugby Now that entrenched & systemic racism is "on trend" a review of the appropriating iconography of Exeter Chiefs logo, the Tomahawk chop, first nation chanting, and First Nation cultural appropriation should be included on the agenda.
— Mary MOMXW™ Williams (@MOMXW) June 22, 2020
— Hugh Mullen (@hughpmullen) June 25, 2020
— Not Your Mascot (@NotYourMascot) June 25, 2020
To be fair, I live 10 miles from Exeter Chiefs and never understood why they chose that name. They have nothing to do with native Americans. I think they should change it to be more representative of the region they come from.
— S W Hoffman (@SWHoffman1) June 25, 2020
This isn’t the first time users on the social media platform have called out the club on this issue
Can't help but find the Exeter chiefs incredibly racist? How is it acceptable to trivialise native american culture with no link whatsoever?
— Emma (@MiscEmma) May 28, 2016
exeter chiefs logo is racist, many of their fans are clearly racist and they are so stupid they don't even realise how racist they are
— ~ (@whatlizziedid) April 5, 2014
There's also Exeter Chiefs with Redskins-esque aesthetics. Rugby has some pretty racist teams.
— Abdulla S.M. (@KarakMufti) September 8, 2018
The topic of Exeter’s club image has made headlines on several occasions in recent years – as other clubs with similar native American brandings dropped the image from their promotions.
In 2016, US Baseball side – The Cleveland Indians – dropped an image of a Native American’s face from their club logo, leaving many in the UK to question whether the Exeter Chiefs should follow suit.
Fresh call for Exeter Chiefs to rethink Native American brand after baseball team drops 'racist' logo from team kit https://t.co/BwFaBS3qen
— Devon Live News (@DevonLiveNews) January 30, 2018
Only last year, the Crusaders in New Zealand underwent a complete image rebrand after the Christchurch Mosque terror attacks. The Super Rugby side dropped from its club logo the image of a Knight brandishing a sword.
Crusaders have dropped their old, sword-wielding logo and revealed their 2020 Super Rugby jersey 🏉
“We believe that the logo we have launched today is a much more fitting representation of this team, organisation and its supporters” pic.twitter.com/DYjZx38WTB
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) December 2, 2019
Many see this as the only way forward for the Exeter club and that now is the time to do it, at a point where progressive strides are being made in regards to race issues and cultural appropriation.
The impact that an image change would have on the Exeter would be monumental, with the Chiefs branding deeply embedded in the club’s identity.
The now-famous Tomohawk chant has become synonymous with the sides domestic success in recent years. Will that have to go too?
What are your thoughts on this debate?
Is Exeter’s use of the Native American Chief in poor taste?
Let us know what you think.