These Are Definitely The 24 Biggest Soccer Stars Of All Time

Although we’re all familiar with names such as Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the world of fútbol, what about the great stars of years past? Here’s a few of the legendary soccer players who have paved the way for today’s major names.

1. Pele

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Not one star has shined brighter than this humble Brazilian, the game’s first true ambassador, who took the world by storm since the 1958 World Cup in Sweden as a young and talented 17-year old. Edson Arantes do Nascimento, his real name, benefitted from the advent of televised coverage of the WC, and his good will and wholeheartedness still has the legend way up there. He played into his 40s, and ended his career in New York.

2. Alfredo Di Stefano

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Born in Argentina, he was known as the “Blond Arrow” for his ability to fend off defenders trying to pry the ball away from him. He made most of his career in Spain with Real Madrid and became a key to the team’s five European Cup titles, scoring in each of the final games. Possessing speed and versatility like few, he played from 1953-64 with Madrid, and FIFA recognized him as one of the greatest all-time stars. He died in Madrid in 2014.

3. Garrincha

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To put things in perspective, be it know that Brazil NEVER lost a match when Pele and Garrincha played together. Manuel dos Santos, nicknamed Garrincha, “little bird” was a dribbler like none playing for his beloved Botafogo in the Brazilian league. With Pele out injured in the 1962 WC, he carried his national team to victory and was named MVP. Unfortunately, he died a heavy drinker at a young age and is survived by an estimated 15 children. He will be forever known as “The People’s Joy” (Alegria do Povo).

4. Didi

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Waldyr Pereira, or simply Didi, was the personification of grace and elegance in the soccer field during the 50s. With Brazil he won 2 WC being named MVP in 1958. His status as one of the greats led to his signing by Real Madrid, but his popularity clashes with DiStefano caused his early departure. Nonetheless, his coaching careers also flourished until his death in 2001. His famous free kick style, called “folha seca” or dry leaf, left goalies puzzled as to what the ball did, simulating a leaf erratically falling in the wind.

5. Teofilo Cubillas

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Scoring a goal in a WC is tough enough, but scoring 5 goals, in TWO different World Cups? Now that’s amazing. The biggest Peruvian star ever, Cubillas played in 3 WC. His career spanned opportunities in Switzerland, Portugal and the just formed NASL Ft. Lauderdale Strikers. His play style was powerful and full of agility. He would face defenders, stop, then bolt in the opposite direction, always heading to the goal line. Named by FIFA as one of the world’s top 100 players of all time.

6. Hector Chumpitaz

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No chump at all here… another Peruvian great, his ruggedness defending was instrumental in Peru’s surge in the world rankings during the 70s. Noted for his vision of the entire field, leadership and technique, most of his career covered several teams in the domestic league, having left only for a couple of years to play with Atlas Club in Mexico. Fearless when facing opposing strikers, many times he forced them into passing to another player, unable to crack loose from Chumpitaz’ hold.

7. Roberto Rivelino

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Bending the ball like few before, this son of Italian immigrants had a fierce kick, dizzying rival goalies. Alongside Pele, he hoisted the 1970 WC in Mexico elevating his stature as one of the games’ all-time greats. Known for his abundant mustache, Roberto had determination, accuracy and vision when leading his team across the field. At home he only played for two teams, Brazilian greats Corinthians and Fluminense, ending his career attracted by the petro-dollars of the Saudi League. His powerful left foot had a cannon!

8. Marcelo Salas

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Tenacious and extremely talented with his left foot, Marcelo is one of Chile’s most beloved soccer stars. He has the distinction of having been champion in all teams he played in, spanning 3 countries. In Argentina he signed with River Plate in a move that was criticized by fans and coaches alike – especially Diego Maradona, who always rooted for rival Boca Juniors. But Salas proved critics wrong leading his team to a prodigal run in the Argentine League and South American regional club championships. Then it was off to Italy to help his club, Lazio, reach the title that had been denied them for 25 years.

9. Elias Figueroa

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A towering presence to intimidate rival strikers, Elias Figueroa is perhaps the greatest Chilean to play the game according to many who saw his fearless style of play in the 60s, 70s and 80s. His biggest asset became the skill shown when stripping the ball from other players and immediately commanding the ball forward to give his team an opportunity to attack. Strong and tall – 6’2” – he starred in homeland Chile, plus stints in Uruguay, Brazil and the United States. Often times he was named MVP of all South America. Figueroa has stayed in touch with the managerial aspect of the game, and at one time even entertained the possibility to run for FIFA president.

10. Mario Kempes

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Having been born in a soccer family, Mario “El Matador” Kempes became a figure in Argentine football at an early age, and by the tender age of 17 was already hitting rival goal nets with an amazing ability and decisiveness. He is one of three players ever to get the unofficial “triple crown” of a World Cup: winning the Cup, earning Top Scorer and MVP honors. He scored the deciding goal of the 1978 final, in Argentina against Netherlands. Playing in Valencia, Spain, he was a top striker in the most powerful league of its time. Briefly returning to Argentina, he remained a super star with River before going back to end his career back in Spain, Austria and Germany. Currently, he’s lead analyst for ESPN Deportes soccer coverage.

11. Kaká

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Let’s leave it at “Kaká”, because Ricardo Izecson Dos Santos Leites maybe a bit too much, as was a lot too much his skillset on the field as a powerful forward-midfielder for Brazil in the earlier part of this century. After winning it all in the Brazilian league with Sao Paulo, he was signed by AC Milan in Italy during 6 seasons after he was traded to Real Madrid for an exorbitant amount of money at the time, almost 70 million euros! With Milan he won the coveted European Champions League in 2007. Once in Spain his star never dulled, although an injury cut short his second season. But coming back stronger than ever, he led Madrid to all but the Champions Cup, having been eliminated twice in semis. His style of play is described as “an effortless glide through the field, which, given his tallness, provided for zipping on and off defenders unable to control him”. He retired in 2017 playing for Orlando, in the MLS.

12. Romario

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Brazil’s beloved star in the 90s, Romario da Souza barely had come of age, when he was top scorer in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, after which he signed with PSV Eindhoven of the Dutch league, winning 3 title in his 5 years there. The big move was his trade to Barcelona, in the 1993 season, where the team went all the way to the Champions League finals as favorites, only to be humiliated by Milan. An impressive socring striker, Romario had mental quickness and an uncanny ability to find the net. He is among the few players in history to have scored over 1,000 goals in his career. For Brazil national team, he is second in scoring, only behind Pele. He is now an avid politician, seeking higher positions for the House of Representatives.

13. Maradona

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Diego Armando Maradona is always controversial. Is he or Pele the best player ever? Is he or Messi the best Argentinian ever? Was he even a good player? Whatever the verdict, he isn’t one to be ignored. After humble beginnings with Argentinos Junior he was transferred to bigtime Boca Juniors in 1981, from where one season later he migrated to Barcelona and became one of the game’s first global superstars, everyone wanted a piece of Maradona! In the WC Mexico ’86, he led the “albiceleste” (baby blue and whites) to win it all and have the world at his feet. Unfortunately, later he run into bad company while in Italy with Napoli, but still managed to display magic with the ball. Short and sometimes chubby, his left foot was prodigious, while his right foot only served as support. Pele is undisputed as best ever, Diego is a close second. No other player in history has a religion named after him, where he is considered God.

14. Ivan Zamorano

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Bam-bam was his moniker due to the power of his fierce attack, both ground and aerial as he was one of the game’s best head scorers. With Figueroa and Salas, he’s the third prong in the Chilean top players. Playing locally for his first 5 years, he transferred out to Switzerland for a couple of years then had the best career years in Spain and Italy, earning top honors in the scoring ranks at both countries. Before ending his career at his beloved Colo-Colo in the homeland, he briefly played for America, of Mexico City, winning the title there too. Currently he’s assisting with play calling duties at Hispanic TV networks in the United States and doesn’t rule out vying for coaching the Chilean national team sometime soon.

15. Carlos Valderrama

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Colombian star Carlos “Pibe” Valderrama would have been noticed even without his trademark soccer skills; that hair of his, wow! An imposing blond dyed afro let defenders always know where he was coming, but that didn’t stop him from commanding deadly attacks on the opposite goal. Starting in his native Colombia, Carlos migrated to France where he had a hard time adapting to a more physical, less technical and artistic, style of play. But his amazing passing got him back on track of becoming a creative force on his team, Montpellier, from where he migrated for a season to Spain, before returning to the homeland. He became one of the founding international players of the US’ MLS in 1996 with Tampa, earning MVP that year. He played as captain for three Colombian WC teams.

16. Enzo Francescoli

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The Prince, as called for his exquisite play style, was Uruguay’s most lauded player in a time where the country’s national team was rather forgettable. Played locally for a couple of years before landing in Argentina’s River Plate and then Europe. To those who saw him on the field, Enzo was graced with control, dribble and smoothness when running, although he wasn’t particularly fast. He compensated with an extraordinary vision of the entire field. He played with Uruguay in 3 WCs, not making much noise due the fact he didn’t have a strong supporting cast. Nonetheless, he also won 3 Copa America with the “celeste”. Many think that his star didn’t shine as much as his potential because of the lack of better footballers around him.

17. Daniel Passarella

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Another huge Argentinian defender, practically impassable on the field, Passarella captained the national team that won the 1978 World Cup, played in his home soil. Armed with a very well-trained foot, as a defender he was one of football’s best scorers. Although not a tall presence, he had skills beyond stature to strike many goals with the head. Daniel Alberto spent the first decade of his prolific career in Argentina, then went to Italy for 6 more years returning to his country for the last games in his storied resume. As a coach he also earned several titles with River, and also in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2003. Also, he was president of beloved River Plate, winning by a narrow margin the club elections.

18. Ronaldo

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Known as “The Phenom”, this man, Ronaldo Luiz Nazario de Lima, was only 17 when Brazil won the 1994 WC in the USA, and from then on, the sky would be the limit. Possessing great speed, agility and vision, he would glide effortlessly into enemy territory in route to another score. His weight was always a concern for the media, never for his loyal throng of followers and coworkers. His skills were such that before turning 21, twice had he broken the world transfer record, first in a short stint with Barcelona, then in Italy with Inter, where he became the mega star the world was enamored with. Injuries plagued him throughout his career, and after the 1999 he had to be sidelined for a lengthy period. In 2002 he signed for Real Madrid, forming part of the legendary “Galacticos”, that conquered all club competitions in Europe. He retired in homeland Brazil in 2011. “My body quit on me”, he was quoted as saying at the time.

19. Roberto Carlos

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It’s not unusual to have players begin their careers at one position, then wind up elsewhere on the field. For Roberto Carlos da Silva, although he migrated to the defensive side of the game, he never really lost the offensive aspect. Considered the best ever to play as left-back, his left foot free-kick – clocked at over 105 mph, and bending like crazy, is still poetry in motion. Featuring laser-like vision and passing skills, he quickly left Brazil for Europe, first in Italy then consolidating his career at Real Madrid, where he won everything during his 11-year tenure there. He returned to Brazil playing until retirement in 2012. He has also coached in Turkey and India.

20. Zico

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Arthur Antunez Coimbra, let’s leave it at “Zico”, ins widely considered in Brazil as the white version of Pele. A formidable attacking midfielder, sadly, he’s considered the best player ever to have never won a World Cup because of the fact that Brazil was sliding internationally during his years on the field. Having played put his career mostly at home, he migrated briefly to Italy, before returning. Dubbed by the media as a creative playmaker, full of technical abilities and a vision for the goal on top of his accuracy passing. After retiring in 1994, he turned to coaching all over the world: Japan, Turkey and Russia mainly, with stints in the Middle East. He is also interested in the managerial side of football as would consider the possibility of running for FIFA president at some time.

21. Gabriel Batistuta

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A striker needs to be fierce, and few like Batistuta, or “bati-GOL”, when scoring into rival goal lines. After playing the local league in Argentina just 3 seasons, Gabriel was transferred to Italy with Fiorentina, where he became a living legend during his 9-year tenure, although he never won a league title there. He was revered by fans, who even made him a real-life bronze statue in appreciation. He transferred to Roma for a brief stint in 2000, and there he finally savored the glory of a title in Italy. With the Argentinian national team, he’s the only player in history to score two hat-tricks (3 goals in a match) in different World Cups. His style of play featured a keen eye for attack and quickness to get open to receive an assist. He retired in 2005 and still makes the odd commercial here and there due to his striking good looks, although privately he is anything but outgoing. He runs his own construction firm and plays golf in his leisure time.

22. Rivaldo

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Tall, sleek and deadly in enemy large box, Rivaldo Ferreira was a dreaded presence in Brazil’s national team during the 90s and beyond. Mostly a forward-midfielder, he attacked from a wide position and let everyone in the other team know his one and only objective: score. Having lost the WC finals to France in 1998, he relentlessly continued his rise until finally hoisting FIFA’s highest honor in 2002, when Brazil beat Germany in a convincing 2-0 where both goals were Rivaldo assists. Playing in 17 teams during his 24 seasons as pro, being Barcelona his major sporting achievement. His almost 6’3” height allowed for his above par vision of the field, always handy when fending off defenders. He was second scoring in Spain several seasons before transferring to Italy. The final decade of his career was spent wandering about Europe and the Middle East. Rivaldo is considered one of the best ever to play the game.

23. Hugo Sanchez

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Mexico’s only entry into the list of greats, Hugo Sanchez had his eyes set on major achievements since a very young age. He played for UNAM in his beginnings, then a short time with San Diego, in the US, before signing with Atletico Madrid in Spain where he had the greatest years in his career. He won the “Pichichi” trophy, to best scorer in Spain, 5 consecutive years, one with Atletico, and the remaining 4 with crosstown rivals Real Madrid, with whom he won it all in Spain and Europe. Athletically gifted, his left foot had pinpoint accuracy and speed. He is the only player from CONCACAF region to be featured in FIFA’s list of best players in the 20th century. Playing 3 WC for Mexico, he later in his career coached the national squad for a short period having been fired due to poor results. He now does color comments for ESPN Deportes.

24. Lionel Messi

CREDIT: leomessi / Instagram

Still active, still hungry, but still without a major win for Argentina, “Lio” is an enigma on and off the field. Signed by Barcelona almost as a child, he is a gifted individual on the field, but rather lonely both on and off the field. Coaches design teams to be his sidekicks, everything has to go through him to make it work, and that has taken a toll on this young man’s performance. Only 30, and has been on the center stage since 17, he won the coveted Gold Ball in 2007 alongside FIFA World Player of the Year honors. Although winning all possible titles with Barcelona is of course a highlight anywhere, it’s with the Argentinian national team where he has yet to be successful. As is the case with Maradona, Messi has a right foot and leg only for support, as the magic comes from his left side. Deadly and accurate, he slivers his way into the opposite field and passes like few before him. The Russia 2018 World Cup will become a defining moment in his legacy.

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These Latino Athletes Have Delivered The Most Iconic Moments In Sports History


These Latino Athletes Have Delivered The Most Iconic Moments In Sports History

Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

Latin American and U.S. Latino athletes have given the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world countless moments of joy, pride, and hope. Latin American sportswomen and men usually come from disadvantaged backgrounds so their stories of pride and success inspire us even more. It would be almost impossible to enumerate all the triumphs achieved by Latin American athletes, but we are listing the Most Iconic Moments In Sports. Sí se puede!

When Diego Armando Maradona scored the infamous but glorious goal known as “La mano de Dios” (“The hand of God”)
June 22, 1986, Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, in a quarterfinals game against bitter rivals England

Diego Armando Maradona
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This has got to be the single most controversial moment in World Cup history. Argentina was facing England in the quarterfinals and Maradona jumped to hit the ball with his head. But thing is, he actually hit it with his hand and the ball penetrated the net. The English were of course appalled, but this event remains one of the most memorable in the long history of joy and drama of the Argentinian national team. We got to also remember that there was some bad blood between Argentina and England at the time, a product of the Falklands War. 

When Ana Gabriela Guevara excelled in an Olympic event that was uncharted territory for Latina athletes
2004 Olympic Games, Athens, Greece

Gabriela Guevara
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Ana Gabriela Guevara, who is now a very controversial politician, gained notoriety for scoring a silver medal in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. She competed in 400m, a test that Mexican track athletes don’t generally excel. But she proved that she is one of a kind. 

When Mexican boxing legend Julio César Chávez pulled off a miracle and knocked out Meldrick Taylor in the last few seconds of their championship unification fight
March 17, 1990, Las Vegas, Nevada

César Chávez
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In a rare encounter, the world’s two best boxers met for a unification fight. Both were unbeaten and Chávez was heralded as a national hero in his native Mexico. The fight was as tough as it gets, with both boxers sustaining enormous amounts of punishment. With 17 seconds left on the clock and behind in the scorecards Julio César connected with a massive right hand. The contest was stopped with two seconds left: a boxing miracle of the highest order.

When Fernando Valenzuela became a baseball hero and an icon of Mexican-American pride and excellence

Fernando Valenzuela
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Fernando “El Toro” Valenzuela became an icon of Latino sportsmanship after an excellent 1981 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was one of the first Mexicans to break into the mainstream in the United States. He inspired and continues to inspire, millions of paisanos. He was an All-Star in each season of his incredible 1981-1986 run. 

When Gabriela Sabatini demonstrated that Latinas can excel in the tennis court
US Open, 1990, Womens’ Tennis champion!

Gaby Sabatini
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Tennis is a perilous sport for Latin Americans because it is mostly dominated by the United States and Europe. But Gaby Sabatini showed that Latino girls can be ace too! She won the U.S. Open in 1990, defeating the German Stefi Graf. Una dama del deporte blanco en toda la extensión de la palabra.

When Colombian dynamo Nairo Quintana reached the stars on his bike
Since 2012

Nairo Quintana
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Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas is perhaps the greatest Colombian cyclist of all time. That is a big claim considering the long and glorious history of the sport in Colombia. Quintana is known for his sustained attacks during steep hills: when most of his adversaries struggle, he has his best performance. He was won multiple stages of the Tour de France and the Giro di Italia. 

When Felipe “Tibio” Muñoz swam toward a gold medal and got a whole country celebrating after some pretty traumatizing events
1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City

El Tibio
Credit: mexico_68_el_tibio_munoz. Digital image. El Grafico

Prior to the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexicans had experienced a traumatizing event when the army attacked a group of students and civilians who were protesting at the Tlatelolco Square. The country was split emotionally and politically. But then came “El Tibio” and at least for a brief moment, the country was united behind a young man who swam his way to a gold medal. The memory of his accomplishment is still brought up today when thinking of the greatest sporting moments in Latin American history. 

When Ecuadorian athlete Jefferson Perez won an Olympic gold medal in the Atlanta Olympic Games
Atlanta Olympic Games, 1996

Jefferson Perez
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Ecuador doesn’t have a strong Olympic team, and medals have been few and far in between. That is why Jefferson Perez is a standout in the sporting history of this proud South American nation. During the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, Perez did the unthinkable. As Rihannon Walker writes in The Undefeated: “Ecuador’s Jefferson Pérez, Russia’s Ilya Markov and Mexico’s Bernardo Segura struggled to find separation from one another as they neared the finish of the 20-kilometer walk at the 1996 Olympics. Then Pérez began to take advantage of having the youngest legs of the trio and powered himself into the lead. As a crowd of 85,000 waited to see who would be the first to appear at Olympic Stadium, Pérez made a dramatic solo entrance and finished in 1 hour, 20 minutes and 7 seconds to become the youngest gold medalist in the 20-km event at 22. His victory also secured Ecuador’s first Olympic medal.” Just wow, a moment to remember forever. 

When Teófilo Stevenson reigned supreme in amateur boxing. Viva Cuba!
1972, 1975, and 1980 Olympic Games in Munich, Montreal, and Moscow

Most Iconic Moments In Sports
Credit: saintmax55 / Instagram

In the 1970s Muhammad Ali was the greatest name in heavyweight boxing, but he was perhaps not the best. Many believe that amateur legend Teofilo Stevenson of Cuba would have beat the great Ali. But, alas, Cuban boxers were not allowed to turn professional and a fight between the two never materialized. Stevenson’s amateur career extended 20 years, from 1969 to 1986. He won a total of three gold medals, un logro extraordinario

When “Las espectaculares morenas del Caribe” Cuban female volleyball team captured the world’s imagination and won three consecutive Olympic gold medals
Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Olympic Games

Most Iconic Moments In Sports
Credit: AAuFzt9. Digital image. MSN. 

This group of amazing Cuban ladies totally dominated volleyball for three Olympic Games, and then won the bronze in their fourth attempt. Puro Cuba! 

When Costa Rican swimmer Claudia Poll surprised everyone and became a national icon
Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games

Most Iconic Moments In Sports
Credit: AAuFGZl. Digital image. MSN

This amazing woman was born in Nicaragua but later became a Costa Rican citizen. She won a gold medal in the Atlanta Games (a big year for Latino athletes!) and is considered the greatest sports figure in the history of the Central American nation. She also won two bronze medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. A true force of nature.

READ: 11 Unusual Sports You Can Find In Latin America

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After 105 Years, the Cleveland Indians Will Finally Change Its Racist Name and Donald Trump is Not Happy


After 105 Years, the Cleveland Indians Will Finally Change Its Racist Name and Donald Trump is Not Happy

Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

After 105 years of having a racist moniker as their team name, the Cleveland Indians has finally decided to change their name.

The New York Times broke the news on Sunday, speaking to three anonymous sources with inside information. Per the Times, the baseball team will apparently formally announce the news as early as this week.

The Cleveland Indians have long come under criticism for having what many consider a racial slur against Native Americans as their team name.

Crystal Echo Hawk, an indigenous activist and member of Pawnee tribe once told USA Today that sports teams that brand themselves with Native American imagery “impacts not only how people view us, but also how we view ourselves. These mascots propagate offensive stereotypes, and scientific studies have shown they increase rates of depression and anxiety among our youth.”

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

In 2018, the Cleveland Indians retired the mascot they’d had for 71 years, “Chief Wahoo”. “Chief Wahoo” was a racist caricature of a Native American. The mascot had bright red skin, an exaggerated nose, and a feather pinned to the back of his head. Ironically, the mascot last appeared on the players’ uniforms on Indigenous Peoples’ Day/Columbus Day in 2018.

Native Americans have long called for the Cleveland Indians to retire their mascot and change their name.

According to the sources that The New York Times interviewed, the transition from being called the “Indians” to a new name (one that is still undecided) will be a difficult one. The Cleveland baseball team will have to phase out all merchandise, retire their current uniforms, and work with a manufacturer to create new equipment and signage. In other words, they have an expensive undertaking ahead of them. One that probably should have been done a long time ago.

The decision to finally change the team’s offensive name comes after a tumultuous year where many American institutions faced a racial reckoning.

Many spokespeople of old that were rooted in minstrelsy, like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, were retired by brands in the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer. It appears that the Cleveland baseball team has also finally heeded its critics.

In July, the team formerly known as the Washington Redskins finally dropped their offensive name as well. The team now goes by the Washington Football Team while they decide on a new name.

But of course, not everyone is happy with the name change. Some believe that the MLB team is becoming too “politically correct”.

None other than President Trump tweeted out his displeasure at the news, calling it “not good news” and claiming that the name change was “cancel culture at work”.

Contrary to what Trump thinks, when a brand evolves to be less offensive and respect the culture of a marginalized community, it isn’t giving into “cancel culture”, but is actually…working towards a better world. We know Donnie doesn’t know much about that.

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