M.I.A. and NFL Embroiled in Court Battle over Super Bowl Middle Finger Incident

M.I.A. and NFL Embroiled in Court Battle over Super Bowl Middle Finger Incident
It's been a while since any attention has been given to the middle finger bomb M.I.A. dropped at the 2012 Super Bowl, but a behind-the-scenes battle has actually been taking place between the singer and the NFL for some time, with the football league asking for $1.5 million and a public apology.

Documents obtained by the Hollywood Reporter reveal that the NFL took legal action against the singer last year, filing their case with the American Arbitration Association on March 13, 2012. According to the NFL, M.I.A.'s "offensive gesture" was done "in flagrant disregard for the values that form the cornerstone of the NFL brand and the Super Bowl."

They further allege that M.I.A. had signed a contract agreement to "ensure that all elements of [her] Performance, including without limitation [her] wardrobe, shall be consistent with such goodwill and reputation," and that the raised middle finger breached the contract to stir up publicity.

M.I.A.'s lawyer Howard King, meanwhile, argues that the gesture was so insignificant that even with a seven-second delay on the broadcast, it slipped past the FCC and NBC censors. "[E]ither the operator fell asleep or the gesture was so fleeting he never saw it," he told the Hollywood Reporter. "In fact, no one would have seen it but for the advent of DVRs and the ability to freeze frame."

The singer's legal team is also ready to "go public with an explanation of how ridiculous it was for the NFL and its fans to devote such furor to this incident." King points to the league attempting to pull the moral high ground by calling into question M.I.A.'s middle finger "while ignoring the genocide occurring in her home country and several other countries, topics she frequently speaks to."  He added:

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...

To help M.I.A.'s case, King is also seeking out fans to submit examples of how members and affiliates of the league, from coaches and players to advertisers, "have damaged or destroyed any vestiges of any reputation for wholesomeness ever enjoyed by the NFL."