Those hoping to get a Super Bowl halftime performance from Rihanna in February will be sorely disappointed.
The “Wild Thoughts” singer has reportedly declined to hit the stage at the Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show because she “supports Colin Kaepernick,” according to a Us Weekly insider.
“The NFL and CBS really wanted Rihanna to be next year’s performer in Atlanta,” the source added. “They offered it to her, but she said no because of the kneeling controversy. She doesn’t agree with the NFL’s stance.”
Kaepernick began sitting and then kneeling during the national anthem when he was a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers during the 2016 NFL season. He told press the move was made in protest of police violence against Black Americans.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.” he said to NFL.com. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
He continued the protest until he became a free agent in the spring of 2017. He has since failed to get signed by any NFL team and has filed a grievance against the league accusing them of colluding to keep him out.
The NFL has made it clear that it does not support players kneeling as “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays. The league even instituted a policy ahead of the 2018 season saying players on the field had to “stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem. That has since been put on hold.
After Rihanna rejected the offer, the NFL tapped Maroon 5 to headline the show. They’ve reportedly accepted the gig, sources told Variety in September. But the league is notorious for not confirming reports about halftime acts.
“It’s a Super Bowl tradition to speculate about the performers for the Pepsi Halftime Show. We are continuing to work with [longtime sponsor] Pepsi on our plans but do not have any announcements to make on what will be another epic show,” an NFL representative told Variety when asked for comment.
Even still, the move was met with backlash from fans who said they want a hip hop act with ties to Atlanta to hit the stage.