M.I.A. Resolves NFL’s War Over Super Bowl Middle Finger


The football league sought $16.6 million in arbitration.

After more than three years, a dispute over M.I.A.’s halftime performance at Super Bowl XLVI has been resolved.
When the singer extended her middle finger during her performance Feb. 5, 2012, the National Football League took her to arbitration with claims of breaching her contract and tarnishing the league’s goodwill and reputation. The 38-year-old M.I.A. (born Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam) put up a defense that ridiculed the football league for even claiming wholesomeness.

The NFL later asserted $16.6 million in damages for what the singer did before 167 million TV viewers. The league wanted $15.1 million of that amount for restitution as the alleged value of public exposure she received by appearing for an approximately two-minute segment during Madonna’s performance. The assessment of damages was challenged in arbitration in light of the fact that the FCC had declined to take any action on the indecency front.

Although the dispute was handled in arbitration, which typically remains private, an investigation by the singer’s lawyer into the league’s reputation represented a potential embarrassment for the league. Or, at least, a distraction. Nevertheless, the NFL pursued an apology plus money, which it said it would donate to charity.
News of the settlement comes as the NFL has reportedly begun asking potential halftime performers like Coldplay and Rihanna to kick in a portion of their post-performance revenue.

The settlement has been confirmed by M.I.A.’s attorney, Howard King, although the terms remain private. Despite what the league demanded, though, M.I.A hasn’t apologized.

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