Paris Saint-Germain Football Club have become involved in a spat with M.I.A. for wearing a doctored version of one of their shirts in her video for "Borders". In the video, which addresses the Syrian refugee crisis, M.I.A. appears wearing a PSG jersey with the club's Dubai-based airline sponsor's slogan changed from "Fly Emirates" to "Fly Pirates". The club have highlighted their issues with the video as "image prejudice" and "economic prejudice".
With the lyrics "Freedom, I'dom, Me'dom. Where's your We'dom?", "Borders" is a bold and innovative political statement about adversity in the face of an ongoing humanitarian crisis – about society, borders, identity, privilege and rights – which makes it even more ironic that it would lead to what could be a potential lawsuit over a simple t-shirt.
M.I.A. published the letter in full on Twitter earlier today, which reads: "You unduly took advantage of our popularity and reputation to enhance the attractiveness of your artist and, consequently, the profits of your company."
In the four page letter, PSG – which has been owned by the Qatar Investment Authority since 2011 – referenced their continued successes as a football club (such as competition wins and titles), as well as a €1 million donation to charity Secours populaire and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as part of the relief effort.
But you can't help but think MIA's decision to put the t-shirt in the video was less about utilising Paris Saint-Germain's 1996 Cup Winners' Cup victory to promote herself, and more one directed at their UAE based sponsors and Qatari shareholders, two countries which have been criticised during the refugee crisis for making it extremely difficult for those fleeing to enter their countries and, in Qatar's case, for the growing human rights controversies growing around their World Cup 2022 construction. If you listen carefully, you can hear the whoosh of that flying right over their heads.
We have contacted MIA for comment and will update the story accordingly. Read it in full below.
This isn't the first time she's been embroiled in a legal battle with a sports organisation. Back in 2013, the NFL sued M.I.A. for her 2012 Super Bowl performance in which she flipped the bird to an audience of around 111.3 million people - a gesture deemed "offensive" and worth $1.5 million (£900,000) in damages.