Exeter Chiefs’ Native American branding is on the line as club delays final decision

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The future of the Exeter Chiefs’ Native American branding is at stake, with the club having to decide over the next few weeks whether or not to drop its controversial images.

After an annual general meeting of members, Exeter’s board of directors will now consult with official partners and independent advisers before taking its next steps.

Sport Telegraph understands that heartfelt speeches were made at the AGM on Wednesday evening. The plan called for the board to discuss members’ views and make a decision, but some 24 hours later the club issued a statement suggesting that consensus had yet to be reached.

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“After consulting and listening in depth to members of the Exeter Rugby Club at Wednesday’s Annual General Meeting, the Board of Directors will now go away and consult further with its stakeholders, partners and professional advisers to decide what the club will do next in terms of the club’s branding, ”it read.

“The board of directors will meet in the coming weeks to make a decision. For the moment, the club will not make any further comment. “

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Exeter adopted Native American imagery in 1999, but has faced increasing criticism and calls to abandon it in recent seasons. In July 2020, the ‘Big Chief’ mascot was removed, and last month Wasps became the first Premiership rival to accuse Exeter of cultural appropriation and urged the Rugby Football Union to consider a ban on fake headdresses worn by the supporters.

Talk to Sport Telegraph On Tuesday, Chris Bentley, who represented Exeter as a player between 20004 and 2012 before taking a position in their sales department until 2018, urged the club to consider ‘global sensibilities’ and drop the brand controversial.

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“It’s not a hill worth dying on,” he added. “After almost 25 years of this brand, we can say ‘okay, now it’s time to change brands’ instead of seeing it as a really tough thing.”

“The opinions of the people of Devon don’t really matter in this debate,” he adds. “If the people we make effigies say they are not happy with the effigies, we have to take that into account. In a global market, you have to take global sensitivities into account.

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