Los Angeles: Rapper M.I.A sparked controversy by flipping her middle finger while performing at the highly popular Super Bowl halftime alongside Madonna, forcing an apology from the network telecasting the show.
   
Donning a Cleopatra-style getup, M.I.A, real name Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam, flipped the bird directly into one of the NBC cameras during her interlude of Madonna's new single.
   
Super Bowl halftime is watched by millions as one of the biggest events on television and NBC and NFL has now issued an apology for airing the controversial moment.
   
"The NFL hired the talent and produced the halftime show. Our system was late to obscure the inappropriate gesture and we apologize to our viewers," NBC said in a statement.
   
The NFL released a statement that seemed to blame the fault delay system for the airing of the gesture. "There was a failure in NBC's delay system. The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing, and we apologize to our fans."
   
M.I.A's gesture comes eight years after Janet Jackson experienced a wardrobe malfunction when her breast became exposed during the 2004 halftime show with Justin Timberlake.
   
The 36-year-old British rapper of Sri Lankan Tamil descent has contributed songs for AR Rahman's score of 'Slumdog Millionaire', which included the collaboration 'O..Saya', which helped M.I.A win a nomination for the Best Original Song Oscar.

(Agencies)