MIA has spent the past year and a half in a secret legal battle with the NFL over her middle-finger performance at the 2012 Super Bowl.
The American football league has demanded $1.5m (£935,000) in compensation for the singer's "flagrant disregard for the values that form the cornerstone of the … Super Bowl".
After months of confidential scrimmaging, MIA has decided "to go public" with details of her dispute with the NFL, her lawyer, Howard King, told the Hollywood Reporter. "[It is] ridiculous … for the NFL and its fans to devote such furor to this incident," he said. "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."
All of this uproar comes back to a single upraised finger, which flashed on TV for well under a second. The date was 5 February 2012. The occasion: Madonna's Super Bowl half-time show. During MIA's brief cameo, the British-born singer danced, bounded and casually flipped viewers the bird. The incident was immediately compared with Janet Jackson's 2004 half-time "wardrobe malfunction", when she accidentally bared her right nipple, but although there were threats of a fine by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a federal court overturned the government agency's ruling.
The NFL have been pursuing MIA for breach of contract since March 2012. "This dispute concerns a blatant, intentional and calculated attempt by MIA … to garner worldwide publicity and attention for herself by making an offensive gesture to the cameras," officials wrote in their arbitration complaint. Although MIA was not paid for her half-time performance, she allegedly agreed to "ensure that all elements of [her] performance … be consistent [with the NFL's] … reputation for wholesomeness". By violating this promise, the NFL asserted that MIA is on the hook for at least $1.5m.
More recently, a letter by the NFL's attorney, Charles Ortner of Proskauer Rose LLP, accuses MIA of unacceptably resisting arbitration, mediation and settlement. She has not shown "good faith", he wrote, and "refuses to take responsibility or apologise for her actions".
According to the Reporter, the NFL are now actively seeking a trial, with associated damages. King said: "Until now, we had reluctantly remained quiet in the hopes of not becoming subject to the whims of 28 rich NFL owners who wanted to crush this brown, outspoken young lady. But ultimately, we could not be forced into the type of public apology demanded by the NFL."
NFL officials have not responded to the Reporter's story, except to state that "any monetary damages" collected from MIA would be donated to charity. The next Super Bowl, scheduled for 2 February, will feature a half-time show by Bruno Mars.
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image: © Matt McGee