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M.I.A. Battling NFL Over Super Bowl Halftime Middle Finger, Facing $1.5 Million Fine

M.I.A.
John Sciulli, Getty Images

In the year and a half since Super Bowl XLVI, M.I.A. has been battling the NFL over punishment for what the league deems an offensive gesture made during the halftime show, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

As viewers may recall, M.I.A. performed alongside Madonna, and during the song ‘Give Me All Your Luvin’,' the rabble-rousing Sri Lankan rapper flashed her middle finger. It was over in seconds, and neither the FCC nor NBC, which broadcast the game, chose to pursue legal action. The league apparently did, however, demanding $1.5 million and a public apology.

M.I.A. hasn’t commented on the matter, but as per her lawyer Howard King, she’s about to end her silence and “go public with an explanation of how ridiculous it was for the NFL and its fans to devote such furor to this incident, while ignoring the genocide occurring in her home country and several other countries, topics she frequently speaks to.”

In arbitration papers filed in March 2012, the Hollywood Reporter reveals, the league claimed it had been the victim of “a blatant, intentional and calculated attempt by M.I.A., a musical artist, to garner worldwide publicity and attention for herself by making an offensive gesture to the cameras during the Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show performance.”

While a spokesman for the NFL told the Hollywood Reporter any money collected from the artist would go to charity, M.I.A.’s camp isn’t content to fork over the bucks and leave well enough alone. As King says, the league’s claims of “wholesomeness” are laughable, given its recently publicized mistreatment of players battling the lingering effects of head injuries,

“We encourage people to submit their examples of how the actions of the NFL, its stars, coaches, advertisers, broadcasters, team doctors and owners have damaged or destroyed any vestiges of any reputation for wholesomeness ever enjoyed by the NFL,” King said.

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