Exeter to keep Chiefs name & logo, but retire 'Big Chief' mascot

Exeter Chiefs flag
Exeter's rugby union club was rebranded as Exeter Chiefs in 1999

Exeter Chiefs have decided to retain their name and logo following calls from some fans to lose their Native American branding.

The Premiership club's board met on Wednesday to discuss a petition, signed by more than 3,700 people, asking for the "harmful" branding to be dropped.

Supporters have been split over the issue, with petitions also launched arguing against a change.

However, the board did decide their 'Big Chief' mascot would be retired.

"Content provided to the board indicated that the name Chiefs dated back into the early 1900s and had a long history with people in the Devon area," the club said in a statement.external-link

"The board took the view that the use of the Chiefs logo was in fact highly respectful.

"It was noted over the years we have had players and coaches from around the world with a wide range of nationalities and cultures. At no time have any players, coaches or their families said anything but positive comments about the branding or culture that exists at the club.

"The one aspect which the board felt could be regarded as disrespectful was the club's mascot, 'Big Chief', and as a mark of respect have decided to retire him."

Fans group Exeter Chiefs 4 Change, which had been campaigning for amendments to the club's branding, described the board's decision as "tone deaf".

"It's incredibly disappointing that Exeter Chiefs has thrown away this opportunity to show itself as an inclusive club," the group said.

"Indigenous peoples have made it clear time and time again that all uses of their imagery in this way are offensive, harmful and unacceptable.

"Exeter's refusal to fully listen to these pleas is tone deaf and sticks two fingers up not only to them but to all minorities.

"This decision will not age well for the club."

Earlier this month, Washington's American football team chose to drop their controversial Redskins name and logo.

The three-time Super Bowl winners had come under pressure from sponsors to conduct a review into their use of the branding.

'Big Chief'
Exeter's 'Big Chief' mascot pictured during their 2017 Premiership final triumph over Wasps at Twickenham