M.I.A. said she has been subjected to a year-and-a-half of legal harassment by the NFL since she extended a middle finger while performing alongside Madonna at last year’s Super Bowl XLVI halftime show.
The NFL demanded US$1.5 million from M.I.A. for breaching her performance contract and tarnishing the league’s reputation, according to documents obtained by the Hollywood Reporter.
Last week the league pushed for a resolution, asking that M.I.A. be deemed liable on summary judgement before going to trial.
The British-Sri Lankan singer was performing the song Give Me All Your Luvin when she gave the audience and cameras the finger, and despite a brief delay NBC’s censors were unable to stop it from reaching a huge TV audience.
Though many viewers failed to notice it, pictures and commentary about the finger spread on social media and sparked a minor furor.
Both the NFL and NBC issued apologies, and M.I.A. apologized to Madonna, who called the gesture overly negative.
The NFL’s legal filing said it was an “offensive gesture” made “in flagrant disregard for the values that form the cornerstone of the NFL brand and the Super Bowl.”
M.I.A.’s attorney Howard King told the Hollywood Reporter she plans to speak out against the league and its “ridiculous” actions.
“Of course, the NFL’s claimed reputation for wholesomeness is hilarious, in light of the weekly felonies committed by its stars, the bounties placed by coaches on opposing players, the homophobic and racist comments uttered by its players, the complete disregard for the health of players and the premature deaths that have resulted from same, and the raping of public entities ready to sacrifice public funds to attract teams,” King said.