Rihanna is due to play the Super Bowl 2023 Halftime Show on February 12, but fans may remember that, the last time she was asked to play the prestigious slot, she rejected the request.
The Bajan star was a notable absence from the February 2019 halftime show because she decided to abstain from playing to show solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback who said he was shunned by the NFL for kneeling before games in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Rihanna attends Marvel Studios' "Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever" premiere at Dolby Theatre on October 26, 2022 in Hollywood, California. The Bajan will be headlining the Super Bowl Halftime show on February 12.AXELLE/BAUER-GRIFFIN/FILMMAGIC/GETTY
Rihanna was meant to fill the headline slot at the sporting event's halftime show, which, according to Statista, was watched in 2022 by almost 100 million viewers.
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But the Bajan refused to play in 2019 because of her support for Kaepernick. He regularly kneeled during the pregame anthem in the 2016 season to protest against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States.
Kaepernick has been out of the NFL since leaving the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, and he launched a legal dispute in 2017 with the league, in which he alleged he had been blackballed by team owners for his protests. In February 2019, Kaepernick reached a confidential settlement with the NFL.
Donald Trump, who was then U.S. president, criticized the NFL player, saying that the league should "fire" players who protest during the national anthem.
In an interview with Vogue magazine published in October 2019, Rihanna revealed why she had turned down the headline slot.
The singer said: "I couldn't dare do that. For what? Who gains from that? Not my people. I just couldn't be a sellout. I couldn't be an enabler. There's things within that organization that I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in any way."
She also addressed the U.S. government's treatment of mass shootings. "It is devastating," she told the magazine. "People are being murdered by war weapons that they legally purchase. This is just not normal. That should never, ever be normal. And the fact that it's classified as something different because of the color of their skin? It's a slap in the face. It's completely racist.
"Put an Arab man with that same weapon in that same Walmart, and there is no way that Trump would sit there and address it publicly as a mental health problem," Rihanna added. "The most mentally ill human being in America right now seems to be the president."
Cardi B also refused to headline the 2016 Super Bowl Halftime Show because of her support for Kaepernick. Maroon 5 headlined instead.
This year, the Super Bowl will see the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs go head-to-head at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.