Parliament members to NFL: Change Redskins name or forget London

With the Washington Redskins set to play a game in London in 2016, the national controversy involving the team's name is now turning into an international controversy.

Five days before the Super Bowl, the NFL received a letter from two members of British Parliament in regards to the Redskins name.

In the Feb. 2 letter, which was obtained by ESPN, parliament members Ruth Smeeth and Ian Austin asked the league to have Washington change its name or "at the minimum, send a different team to our country to represent the sport, one that does not promote a racial slur."

The Redskins are scheduled to play the Bengals on Oct. 30 at Wembley Stadium.

The day after the NFL announced that the Redskins would be playing in England, the Oneida Indian Nation blasted the NFL for creating an international incident by sending the Redskins to London.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has held the same stance on the Redskins name for the past few years. Goodell has reiterated that any name change is ultimately up to owner Daniel Snyder.

League spokesman Brian McCarthy echoed that sentiment in a statement to ESPN.

"A team's name is a club decision," McCarthy said. "We recognize there are strong views on both sides of this."

In the letter from the parliament members, Smeeth and Austin said that the Redskins name goes "directly" against the values of British citizens.

"We were shocked to learn the derivation of the term 'R*dskin,' pertaining as it does to the historic abuse of native Americans," the letter said. "The exportation of this racial slur to the UK this autumn, when the Washington team is due to play, directly contravenes the values that many in Britain have worked so hard to instill."

Smeeth also explained that the game could be an issue for the BBC, the publicly funded company that's scheduled to broadcast the game.

"Given it's taxpayer-funded, if we believe it's a racial slur, then that means problems for the BBC in terms of coverage of the event," Smeeth told ESPN. "There is going to come a pressure point. The last thing the NFL wants -- after putting so much behind its brand in the UK -- is a good number of us to begin putting pressure on the BBC in terms of what they're showing and how they're showing it. This is not the image the NFL wants portrayed in the UK."

The game could also create a problem for Wembley Stadium, which "has strict regulations against the use of racial slurs and chanting at its events and is owned by the football association, which has taken a strong stance against racism in sports," the letter states. 

You can read the letter in its entirety by clicking here

The Week 8 game is a Bengals home game, so if the NFL decided to change it, and that's a big if, then it would likely involve another team on Cincinnati's home schedule playing in London. The NFL could also move the game to Cincinnati.

The Redskins' name controversy has slowly been gaining steam over the past few years.

In October, the state of California banned all public schools in the state from using the name "Redskins" as an athletic team name, mascot or nickname. That ruling came 18 months after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled Washington's trademark registration on the "Redskins" name.

The Redskins are appealing that ruling.

The Redskins name has turned into an international controversy. (USATSI)
The Redskins name has turned into an international controversy. (USATSI)
CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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