Jay-Z is facing criticism for teaming up with the NFL following anger about the body’s response to footballer Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 kneeling protest.
The rap star, who once rapped “I said no to the Super Bowl, you need me, I don’t need you”, will now help select acts for the Super Bowl half-time show.
The deal is meant to “enhance live game experiences and amplify the league’s social justice efforts”, he said.
Kaepernick’s girlfriend said “Jay-Z let them use him”, which was “disgusting”.
Kaepernick has effectively been frozen out of the game for “taking a knee” during a pre-game national anthem in protest at the treatment of black people in America.
His partner Nessa Diab said the deal had helped to “bury” her boyfriend.
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She wrote on Instagram: “We will never turn our backs on @kaepernick7 because your idols decided to work with the same organization that is actively keeping Colin unemployed all because he peacefully protested against social injustice in black and brown communities, specifically police brutality.
“So really, how can Jay-Z and the NFL utter social justice in their partnership while keeping Colin unemployed because of his social justice work?”
She added: “What is disgusting and disappointing is Jay-Z let them use him. Whether Jay-Z knew it or not (I don’t doubt his intelligence – so I would think he knew) he helped the NFL bury who he said is an iconic figure.”
Kaepernick’s former team-mate and Carolina Panthers defensive back Eric Reid tweeted: “Jay-Z knowingly made a money move with the very people who’ve committed an injustice against Colin and is using social justice to smooth it over with the black community.”
Reid was the first player to join Kaepernick in kneeling. The pair filed grievances against the NFL, which were settled out of court in February.
Speaking on Wednesday, the rapper and Roc Nation label boss said the partnership would “inspire change”, adding: “This partnership is an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America. The NFL were willing to do some things, to make some changes, that we can do some good.”
Defending the deal, he said: “I think we’ve moved past kneeling and I think it’s time to go into actionable items.”
The NFL said the agreement would “nurture and strengthen community through football and music”.
However, the The New York Post called it the “perfect cover for NFL’s ‘social justice’ pandering”.
The Undefeated added: “No matter where Jay started, he’s now got more in common with NFL owners than with NFL players.”
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