US & Canada

ESPN reassigns commentator Robert Lee over 'name coincidence'

Confederate General Robert E Lee and ESPN sports commentator Robert Lee Image copyright Getty Images & @RobertLeePXP/Twitter
Image caption ESPN said they had reassigned Mr Lee because he had the same name as the Confederate general Robert E Lee

ESPN has removed a sports commentator from covering an American football game in Charlottesville because he has the same name as Civil War General Robert E Lee.

Robert Lee was scheduled to cover a University of Virginia game in the city for the broadcaster on 2 September.

ESPN said it had moved Mr Lee "simply because of the coincidence of his name".

White nationalists marched through the college during a rally this month.

The rally was organised to protest against the removal of a statue of General Lee, who commanded the pro-slavery Confederate forces during the American Civil War.

It descended into violent street brawls and one woman was killed when a car ploughed through a crowd of counter-protesters.

In a statement, ESPN said: "We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name.

"It's a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play by play for a football game has become an issue."

However, the decision to move Mr Lee has been ridiculed on social media.

Mr Lee was set to cover the University of Virginia's first game of the season against the College of William and Mary.

He has been reassigned to a game between Youngstown State and Pittsburgh which takes place on the same day.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The statue of General Robert E Lee in Charlottesville was the centre of violent protests

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