The NFL has refused to comment on reports that Barbadian singer Rihanna declined an invitation to headline the Super Bowl half-time show in support of Colin Kaepernick.
Quarterback Kaepernick, 30, was the first player to kneel during the US national anthem.
Other players followed suit, leading to criticism from President Donald Trump.
A source close to the singer reportedly told US Weekly magazine that Rihanna “does not agree with the NFL’s stance”.
The former NFL quarterback whose exile from the league, perceived as being due to his protests during the ritual performance of the national anthem at games, has been one of several recent sources of scandal for America’s most popular sporting event.
Rihanna’s reported choice not to participate makes clear that, even as ratings for football are up, the sport sits on one side of a culture war. At the same time many of the stars that NFL has spent so much time and energy trying to bring over as allies are firmly planted in the opposing end zone.
Maroon 5 will now headline the show, which will take place on 3 February in Atlanta, Georgia.
Players who refused to stand during The Star-Spangled Banner have said the protests were a reaction to police brutality against African Americans and racial inequality.
Kaepernick has been without a team since he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2017.
He has filed a grievance against NFL team owners he claims conspired not to hire him because of his protests and has become the face of the new Nike advertising campaign which has boosted sales for the company and increased the debate around his protest.
Regardless of which side you stand on, Kaepernick’s protest has surely been a cause of much debate and catalyst for the shift in people’s mentality towards police injustice towards black people.