The NFL’s Washington Football Team has dropped its cheerleading squad in favor of a dance team made up of men and women in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal.
The First Ladies of Football cheerleaders program was paused last year in the wake of Washington Post reports detailing claims of sexual harassment by 15 former female employees of the team, some incidents involving cheerleaders.
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An NFL investigation into the claims is ongoing while ESPN reported the club, which dropped its Redskins nickname last year after pressure from sponsors amid nationwide anti-racism protests, had reached a settlement with former cheerleaders last year.
ESPN, citing unnamed sources, also said the rebrand was not tied to the cheerleading controversy.
The team announced Wednesday the hiring of former NBA entertainment executive Petra Pope to “design and reimagine a unique gameday experience for our fans” once spectators are allowed again for home games.
“We want to be more inclusive, so we are going to invite a coed entity,” Pope told USA Today. “We’re able to do more things with the strength of a male, and lifts, so that has changed a great deal. The inclusivity, strength and interest of choreography has changed.”
No calendars are expected to be made by the dance team. Cheerleader swimsuit calendar photo shoots produced outtakes with revealing images of women that were collected into videos were part of the issues for women, the Post reported.
Pope is a former manager of the Laker Girls, the Los Angeles Lakers cheer squad.