Controversial rapper M.I.A. may be in breach of contract with the National Football League following her obscene gesture during Sundayâ€™s Super Bowl halftime show.
The British-born artist accompanied Madonna on stage at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and shocked viewers by issuing a middle-finger salute and uttering an expletive while performing â€œGive Me All Your Luvinâ€™.â€
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Yahoo! Sports this week that the league books all its own talent for the show, and has contractual stipulations with each performer regarding their behavior.
â€œWe do have [safeguards regarding artist conduct] written into their contracts,â€ Aiello said.
When asked if M.I.A. faces a potential financial penalty as a result of the incident, which took place in front of 111 million viewers, Aiello refused to say.
The NFL was unhappy that the requisite delay system, designed to allow broadcaster NBC to ensure that any offensive material be kept out of the live telecast, failed to operate properly. NBC did scramble its signal, but it came moments after M.I.A.â€™s remark and gesture.
â€œThere has been a delay system in place since the incident with Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake,â€ said Aiello, referring to the infamous â€œwardrobe malfunctionâ€ of Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004. â€œThe system did not work and that is something we will review.
â€œWe produce the show, the network televises it, and the system is supposed to work to make sure nothing is shown of this kind. It clearly wasnâ€™t part of the plan.â€
The Federal Communication Commission fined CBS $550,000 for airing Jacksonâ€™s wardrobe malfunction in 2004, though a court later overturned the fine, ruling the FCC â€œacted arbitrarilyâ€ in enforcing indecency policies.
At this time, itâ€™s unclear whether the FCC will level a financial penalty against NBC. Multiple calls to the FCC were unreturned.
NBC, reportedly unimpressed by what it felt was an unnecessarily strong reaction from the NFL, gave its own statement.
â€œThe NFL hired the talent and produced the halftime show,â€ said an NBC spokesman via email. â€œOur system was late to obscure the inappropriate gesture and we apologize to our viewers.
Madonna was reportedly furious with M.I.A. for the gesture that overshadowed the performance, after having invited M.I.A. to join her on stage
M.I.A., whose real name is Mathangi Arulpragasam, is believed to be with her American husband Benjamin Brewer at their California home. She has remained tight-lipped on the incident, although British newspaper The Sun quoted a source close to the rapper as saying she was â€œincredibly sorry.â€
Much of the public sentiment has sided with her. As an artist with a tough and raw reputation, the incident may serve to enhance, rather than detract, from her career.
â€œWeâ€™re sorry this happened,â€ the NBC spokesman said. â€œIt was only on the air for two-thirds of a second. Weâ€™ve gotten very few complaints.â€
Watch below to see M.I.A. in action somewhere around 7:53 of the video.