Exeter Chiefs is facing calls to drop its name, badge and mascot as snowflakes claim the theme is ‘offensive’.
Activists set up a petition calling for the 150-year-old rugby union side to change over its ‘harmful’ impact on Native Americans.
Their claims were echoed by modern American history professor Rachel Herrmann from Cardiff University, who lashed out at fans who wear merchandise to matches.
But supporters of the Devon club have set up a counter petition as they desperately hold on to the club’s nickname, which dates back to the 1930s.
Exeter’s directors are today reviewing their official branding at a board meeting, with many fearing they will bow to pressure.
Activists set up a petition calling for the 150-year-old rugby union side to change over its ‘harmful’ impact on Native Americans. Pictured: The Chiefs’ mascot
One petition is titled Asking Exeter Chiefs to drop its harmful use of Indigenous Peoples’ imagery & branding.
It says the club’s theme is ‘on the wrong side of history’ in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.
A post reads: ‘There is no place in a predominantly white British environment for appropriation of Indigenous Peoples’ imagery that has no relation whatsoever to the history of the club, or the city.
‘The Chiefs brand dates back to 1999, a decision that was not taken with racism in mind, but one that is now sat increasingly awkwardly at the pinnacle of English rugby.’
It adds: ‘The stylised Chief on the club’s crest, the ”Big Chief” mascot, the headdresses and tomahawks adorning the supporters, and the ”Tomahawk Chop” chant are all examples of cultural appropriation of the Indigenous Peoples who were all but wiped out by white European settlers and who still suffer extreme examples of racial prejudice today, across the world.’
Exeter’s directors are today reviewing their official branding at a board meeting, with many fearing they will bow to pressure
Ashley Green, who created it, told the BBC earlier this month: ‘There is a lot of momentum gathering, hopefully on both sides of the Atlantic, and Exeter Chiefs really can’t ignore it.
‘They have to do this proactively and of their own accord. We just want to be as proud of the club off the pitch as we are of the team on the pitch.’
Dr Herrmann agreed, criticising the Premier League leaders for evoking ‘Britain’s forgotten imperial American past’.
She told Ruck: ‘I think changing [Exeter’s] name would be the ultimate step but I don’t know whether that is likely to happen.
‘I would at least like to see an engaged discussion between the team and Native American groups that could better explain why the name might be offensive.’
She also slammed fans who wave tomahawks, wore Native American headdress and war paint at matches for evoking a history of settler colonialism.
Exeter officially adopted the name in and logo in 1999, but supporters have used it as a nickname since the 1930s.
It is thought to derive from a Devon tradition of club first teams in the county being referred to as ‘Chiefs’.
Sportsmail reported this month the side had never previously received a complaint about its branding prior to the recent campaign.
Luke Cowan-Dickie of Exeter Chiefs and England looks for a pass during a training session at Sandy Park on July 22
Thousands of fans rallied to defend their club’s name, with a counter petition called ‘The Chiefs representation of an American Indian is about respect and honour to them’ set up.
It said: ‘The usage of the Native American in the Exeter Chiefs logo and brand is to honour and respect their cultural beliefs.
‘Exeter Chiefs fans wear their replica shirts and merchandise with pride of their team, and all that goes with it.
‘The Chiefs have a huge, dedicated and very loyal following who all do the ”chop” with pride.’
It added: ‘We would all love everyone to share our belief and not see it with any offence.’
Ian Dunstan, who made the counter petition, said: ‘How could a club with so many fans from so many cultures ever market something that was racist?
‘You can see the Chiefs logo across the world. I have seen people wearing it in Kenya, Dubai and Montreal.’
Another supporter added online: ‘You woke snowflakes find everything these days offensive.’
Exeter have not publicly commented on the matter and will not until the board has met.