American TV bosses have apologised after MIA swore and flashed her middle finger at the camera during a half-time performance with Madonna at the Super Bowl.

The London-born rapper and singer, real name Maya Arulpragasam, was performing on Madonna’s new single, Give Me All Your Luvin’, at the game in Indianapolis when she made the gesture and sang ‘I don’t give a s***’.

Viewers saw the screen briefly blur as technicians attempted to cover it up.

The Super Bowl is America’s biggest TV event of the year, pulling in an audience of more than 100 million people.

A spokesman for NBC, which showed the game, said: “We apologise for the inappropriate gesture that aired during half-time. It was a spontaneous gesture that our delay system caught late.”

It wasn’t the first time MIA has courted controversy. The Paper Planes star ran foul of YouTube chiefs in 2010 when the video for her single Born Free was given an adults-only rating, because of its graphic scenes of a child being shot through the head and a man being blown apart in an explosion.

Last night’s incident was reminiscent of Janet Jackson’s ‘wardrobe malfunction’ at the Super Bowl eight years ago. The brief exposure of Jackson’s nipple during the 2004 half-time show raised a storm of controversy.

The NFL, which produces the show, blamed a failure in NBC’s delay system for allowing the gesture to be seen. An NFL spokesman said: “The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing, and we apologise to our fans.”

Madonna herself made a grand entrance when muscle-bound men carried her extravagant throne across the football field to the stage for her opening song Vogue. Cee Lo, Nicki Minaj and dance rockers LMFAO also appeared with the star.