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NFL, M.I.A. in “secret legal war” over Super Bowl halftime show

Nicki Minaj (left) and M.I.A. in February 2012. (David J. Phillip / AP)

The NFL does not take kindly to superstars who provide Super Bowl halftime that isn’t wholesome and it wasn’t particularly happy when M.I.A. made like Bud Adams and flipped the bird during Madonna’s February 2012 show.

The league apologized at the time and, since then, has quietly followed up by waging what The Hollywood Reporter says is a “secret legal war” against the singer. The NFL filed a claim with the American Arbitration Association in March 2012, seeking $1.5 million and a public apology from the rapper, who also uttered an expletive during the show.

M.I.A., her lawyer told THR, “plans to launch a public war on the mega-powerful football league.”

“She is going to go public with an explanation of how ridiculous it was for the NFL and its fans to devote such furor to this incident,” Howard King said, “while ignoring the genocide occurring in her home country and several other countries, topics she frequently speaks to.”

M.I.A., whose given name is Mathangi Arulpragasam, is English and Sri Lankan.

“Of course, the NFL’s claimed reputation for wholesomeness is hilarious, in light of the weekly felonies committed by its stars,” King said, “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.”

The NFL had no comment for THR, other than to point out that any monetary award would be given to charity.

The NFL contends that her performance is in breach of a contract, according to THR, that required that she “acknowledge the great value of the goodwill associated with the NFL and the tremendous public respect and reputation for wholesomeness enjoyed by the NFL” and that she “ensure that all elements of [her] Performance, including without limitation [her] wardrobe, shall be consistent with such goodwill and reputation.”

At least there was no wardrobe malfunction in the show, just as Madonna had promised.

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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