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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

Rapper M.I.A. facing $1.5m fine over Super Bowl finger gesture

Controversial British-Sri Lankan rapper M.I.A is fighting a massive fine after swearing during one of the biggest American sporting events of the year, reports say.

M.I.A., 38, was seen flipping her middle finger and saying "I don't give a s**t" at cameras during her performance at the National Football League (NFL) Super Bowl half-time show in 2012.

The incident occurred while the Bad Girls singer, real name Maya Arulpragasam, was performing alongside Madonna and Nicki Minaj during the show, which is seen by millions in America and around the world.

She now faces a maximum fine of $1.5 million as a result of legal action taken by the NFL after broadcaster NBC and America's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) both said they would take no further action.

The NFL called the singer's action "offensive" and claims that she had signed an agreement to protect the "reputation for wholesomeness enjoyed by the NFL" during the unpaid performance.

M.I.A.'s lawyer, Howard King, claims she is planning to fight back against the NFL.

He told the Hollywood Reporter: 'She is going to go public with an explanation of how ridiculous it was for the NFL and its fans to devote such furore to this incident, while ignoring the genocide occurring in her home country and several other countries, topics she frequently speaks to.

While all eyes were on Madonna during the now infamous performance back in 2012, broadcasters were caught by surprise by the singer and scrambled to obscure the gesture in time.

The screen briefly went blurred in what seemed like a late attempt to cut out the camera shot and Madonna, who at this point was lying on her back behind the rapper, appearing blissfully unaware of the controversial move.

Shortly after the performance, a source inside M.I.A.'s camp claimed the rapper was struck with "a case of adrenaline and nerves."

It's not the first time the Hounslow born M.I.A. (the name is an allusion to the scores of civilians who went missing during Sri Lanka's brutal Civil War in the 1980's) has courted controversy.

The Sri Lankan government has repeatedly accused her of being a "cheerleader" for the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). 

As the 'only Tamil in the western media' M.I.A says she has a responsibility to say 'what is going on' in the country.

A graphic video for her 2010 single Born Free was given an adults-only rating on YouTube and drew parallels with racism for depicting red-haired "gingers" being rounded up by armed gangs and executed for sport.

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