Singapore government pulls coronavirus mascots after outcry from Liverpool fans

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The Singapore government has pulled a series of coronavirus-fighting mascots from its official website after Liverpool fans launched a petition against one of them.

The Mascot, MAWA Man, was described as a “fanatical Manchester United fan who grew up in the 1980s when Liverpool kept winning titles” and had a liver bird (Liverpool’s mascot) crossed out on his chest. 

His name MAWA - Must Always Walk Alone - was a play on Liverpool’s anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. The idea was for MAWA Man to encourage residents to follow social distancing rules - as he did by using telekinetic powers gained from his hatred of Liverpool - but the concept quickly backfired.

A petition was launched by Liverpool fans calling for the character’s removal and quickly gained more than 850 signatures. “'You’ll Never Walk Alone’ is a song that was collectively used by most European radio stations as a show of solidarity amidst the Covid-19 lockdowns,” said the petition.

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“This campaign appears to be an attempt to make a mockery of the song. This is distasteful and extremely disrespectful.”

The Singapore government responded: “The Virus Vanguard is undergoing a review. We have received quite a lot of feedback on the characters and we will be reviewing them. We are sorry if we offended anyone.

“As this is the first time we are exploring this content format, we appreciate your patience.”

The mascots were subsequently removed. 

They were created by Mas Shafreen, the founder of local artists collective Band of Doodlers, who is a United fan. He apologised for any offence caused and later stepped down from the group after being separately accused of plagiarism.