MIA begs Madonna for money as NFL demands $16.6m over Super Bowl middle finger

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MIA has asked Madonna to bail her out after being ordered to pay $16.6m (£9.1m) for flipping her middle finger on stage during the 2012 Super Bowl half–time show.

The National Football League had initially demanded $1.5m for breach of contract and tarnishing of reputation, but filed for additional "restitution" costs before the American Arbitration Association on Friday, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

These charges would cover "the alleged value of public exposure (MIA) received by appearing for an approximately two minute segment during Madonna’s performance," NFL's statement read. "The figure is based on what advertisers would have paid for ads during this time."

The British rapper made the controversial gesture for less than a second while performing "Give Me All Your Luvin'". She was not paid for her Super Bowl performance, as is custom.

MIA's Twitter message begging Madonna for financial assistance received some 1,500 retweets but has since been deleted.

What Madonna's response will be as yet remains unknown, but she criticised MIA's actions after the show. "It's such a teenage, irrelevant thing to do. There was such a feeling of love and unity there. What was the point?" she told Ryan Seacrest at the time.

MIA's spokesperson has reacted to NFL's claim, arguing that it "lacks any basis in law, fact or logic". "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," read the statement, which also drew on other explicit moments from past Super Bowls (ft. Michael Jackson grabbing his genitalia and Prince's "erect oversized phallus" guitar).

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A "mere" 222 complaints were reportedly received from 111.3m viewers, compared with more than 542,000 over Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" in 2004.

Legal action against MIA first began in September 2013, when she accused the US football governing body of making her a "scapegoat".

Shortly afterwards, the singer uploaded a video of herself wearing an Oakland Raiders top, talking on the phone and describing the case as a "completely ridiculous, massive display of corporation dick-shaking".

"They basically say it's okay for me to promote being sexually exploited as a female, than to display female empowerment through being punk rock," she said.

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