NFL scandal: Calls to boycott sponsors after Ray Rice and Greg Hardy suspensions

Promotional posters from beauty sponsor CoverGirl have been doctored by social media users

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The Independent US

Fans of disgraced NFL player Ray Rice queued up to hand in their replica shirts over the weekend as posters criticising the league and its sponsors’ stance on domestic violence went viral.

Thousands of Baltimore Ravens supporters waited outside M&T Bank Stadium on Friday in order to swap their number 27 tops for those of other players, The Baltimore Sun reported.

The protest took place as social media users continued to pile pressure on CoverGirl, the NFL’s official beauty sponsor, by sharing doctored images of a poster produced by the company.

The artwork, which features a model wearing Ravens colours-inspired make-up alongside the slogan “Get You Game Face On” has been altered to include a black eye, after footage emerged showing Rice striking his fiancée Janay Palmer, who he has since married, in a hotel elevator in February.

Other posters promoting the San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers have also been edited, to highlight other instances of alleged domestic violence involving league players.

The shocking images encourage people to boycott the beauty company until it withdraws its sponsorship of the NFL and have been accompanied by calls for Commissioner Roger Goodell to resign.

CoverGirl issued the following response when the posters first emerged last week:

However, the link included in the post appears to have been subsequently deactivated  - and the undoctored poster remains in place on the company's website.

According to the LA Times, the statement said: "As a brand that has always supported women and stood for female empowerment, CoverGirl believes domestic violence is completely unacceptable. We developed our NFL program to celebrate the more than 80 million female football fans.

"In light of recent events, we have encouraged the NFL to take swift action on their path forward to address the issue of domestic violence."

Last week, Rice was suspended indefinitely by the NFL - but Goodell had already come under fire for the league's slow response to the domestic violence.

At a news conference on Friday, Goodell said: "I got it wrong in the handling of the Ray Rice matter.

"And I'm sorry for that. I got it wrong on a number of levels, from the process that I led to the decision that I reached."

Rules governing personal conduct for players and other employees will change, he said, and experts from outside the league will help it shape that new policy.

A "conduct committee" will be established by the NFL to review policy, a significant concession for an organization known for its top-down, fortress-like approach to management.

"We will get our house in order," Goodell said.

"I know this because we will make it happen," he said. "Nothing is off the table. Let me say it again, we will implement new conduct policies."

Other sponsors have been highly critical of the NFL, including brewing giant Anheuser-Busch.