The Washington Football Team - formerly known as the Washington Redskins - are trading their cheerleaders for a "more inclusive" co-ed dance team.
Washington Football Team (WFT) senior advisor Petra Pope told USA Today the new team will highlight both male and female members with a "skillset of being super athletic."
"We want to be more inclusive, so we are going to invite a coed entity (to audition)," Pope said. "We’re able to do more things with the strength of a male, and lifts, so that’s changed a great deal. The inclusivity, strength and interest of choreography has changed."
Pope added that members of WFT's “The First Ladies of Football” cheerleading squad are welcome to try out for the dance team despite their contracts having expired.
The decision comes during a multi-year rebranding of the organization. The WFT, formerly the Redskins, changed its name for the 2020 NFL season following criticism that its iconic name appropriated Native American culture.
The organization was also accused by 40 women, including members of the 2008 and 2010 cheerleading teams, of having a workplace environment that encouraged sexual harassment. Former cheerleaders alleged that employees of the organization created a video of outtakes during a swimsuit calendar photoshoot when the women weren’t fully dressed. Dan Snyder, the WFT owner, denied these allegations but reached a settlement with the former cheerleaders that was reported in February.
Pope stressed that the organization does not plan on holding a calendar photo shoot again.
“At this point, as we re-imagine what this looks like, that’s not in the plans. We’re going to move forward to a more modern entity, and that more than likely will not be a part of it. Right now we’re thinking modern, modern franchise. A calendar is not a part of that process,” she said.