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2012 Super Bowl halftime singer goes on the offensive against NFL

LOS ANGELES – M.I.A. is calling foul over the National Football League’s reaction to her 2012 Super Bowl halftime performance.

The British-Sri Lankan pop star has been embroiled for months in a behind-the-scenes battle with pro football officials over her Super Bowl XLVI show.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the league is upset because during a number with headliner Madonna, M.I.A. raised her middle finger and mouthed, “I don’t give a ....”

Casual viewers of NBC’s live telecast could easily have missed the gesture and mouthed obscenity, which lasted only a second before the cameras cut away.

While M.I.A. caught some flak from critics and viewers immediately after the show, the controversy died down after a few days.

But league officials, who remember the outrage over Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the 2004 Super Bowl, have had long memories this time. According to the Reporter, the NFL started an arbitration proceeding against the “Paper Planes” singer for breach of contract and has been seeking $1.5 million in damages.

The league said in legal papers that M.I.A.’s behavior was a slap at NFL values.

Howard King, a lawyer for M.I.A., is hitting back hard.

“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,” he was quoted as saying.

The Reporter said the NFL was making the argument that she intentionally breached the agreement with her gesture and said that if there’s any doubts about her obligations under the contract, “M.I.A., as a member of the public and a noted member of the music entertainment industry, was unquestionably aware of the adverse consequences sustained by the NFL, and the public outcry provoked, by the Janet Jackson ‘wardrobe malfunction’ during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVIII.”

The Reporter said the NFL had no immediate comment on the legal dispute or King’s comments beyond saying that “any monetary damages for her actions would have been donated to charity.”