(Reuters) – Cleveland Indians fans will be banned from wearing native American headdresses and face paint in the new Major League Baseball (MLB) season, the club said on Wednesday.
“Inappropriate or offensive images, words, dress or face paint must be covered or removed, and failure to do so may constitute grounds for ejection or refusal of admission,” said the team, which is looking for a new name.
The policy, which comes into effect starting with Cleveland’s regular-season home opener against the Kansas City Royals on Monday, means anyone with their faces painted “in a way that references or appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions” could be refused entry, the team said.
In December, the club said it would drop its “Indians” name, following persistent criticism that it was offensive to Native Americans but would continue to use it during the 2021 season, until a new name was chosen.
The team, which has won only two World Series championships, removed its “Chief Wahoo” logo from uniforms in the 2019 season.
Cleveland’s decision to change its name comes amid a nationwide reckoning over racial inequality in the United States that prompted the National Football League’s (NFL) Washington franchise to drop its “Redskins” team name last July after 87 years.
The Washington NFL team immediately discontinued the use of its old name and adopted the temporary moniker “Washington Football Team” while it develops a new brand.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Clare Fallon