The NFL has stepped up its legal fight against M.I.A. On Friday, nearly two years after the singer stuck up her middle finger while performing in Madonna’s Super Bowl Halftime Show, the league submitted an additional claim seeking $15.1 million in “restitution”, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That’s on top of the $1.5 million it was already demanding from M.I.A. for allegedly breaching her performance contract.
M.I.A. and the NFL have been locked in an arbitration battle since March 2012 when the league filed a complaint with the American Arbitration Association. In their new claim, the league says its seeking ‘restitution” for “the alleged value of public exposure she received by appearing for an approximately two minute segment during Madonna’s performance,” the Reporter notes. “The figure is based on what advertisers would have paid for ads during this time.”
M.I.A.’s representatives have since responded, saying, “The claim for restitution lacks any basis in law, fact, or logic.” They add that the “continued pursuit of this proceeding is transparently an exercise by the NFL intended solely to bully and make an example of Respondents for daring to challenge NFL.”
In their defense, M.I.A.’s representatives point to other Super Bowl Halftime performances that pushed the boundaries of “wholesomeness,” citing examples such as when Michael Jackson grabbed his genitalia while singing “Billie Jean”, Prince caressing his guitar neck “as if stroking an erect oversized phallus”, and Madonna’s own performance, which featured “scenes of very young women dancers (possibly not even of adult age) poised in reclining positions, with their feet and hands and/or shoulders planted on the ground behind them.”
M.I.A.’s team also noted the NFL’s recent implementation of a 15-yard penalty for a player who used the “N-word” in contrast to their $16.6 million demand from her. You can read her full response here.
M.I.A. previously said the middle finger was a “display of female empowerment” and a spiritual gesture to the Hindu Goddess Matangi.