Too often, modern sports is about money or advertising, not sportsmanship. But Japanese fans have shown that even after a crazy win, you can still be civil enough to clean after yourself.
The “Blue Samurais” was facing off against Colombia, a team which thrashed them 4-1 in the previous World Cup. But things were different this time after a blatant handball left the South American team one goal and one player down. In the end, Japan took the victory 2-1, becoming the first Asian team to defeat a South American team in the World Cup. But for most people, the highlight came after the game, when the Japanese did their part of de-trashing.
Armed with plastic bin bags they had brought along with them, the Japanese fans started cleaning their part of the stadium. While plastic and other garbage are left behind at many sporting events, this was not the case following Japan’s game.
This is something that’s ingrained to children in Japan at a young age and routinely happens in matches back home. It’s not the first time this has happened on a global stage — four years before, at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Japanese fans did the same thing, even though their team had lost. It seems that no matter what happens, the fans never give up on their good manners and civic duty.
“It’s not just part of the football culture but part of Japanese culture,” Japan-based football journalist Scott McIntyre told the BBC. He is in Russia following the team and was not at all surprised by the somewhat different nature of Samurai Blue fans.
“You often hear people say that football is a reflection of culture. An important aspect of Japanese society is making sure that everything is absolutely clean and that’s the case in all sporting events and certainly also in football.”
But while this might be common for Japanese, they’re also inspiring other fans to do the same thing. The fans of Senegal celebrated an important victory against Poland, after which they also cleaned their section before leaving the stadium.
It’s a classy gesture which, as it has been already shown, has the power to inspire others. It’s what sporting events should be all about, and we can only hope that one by one, gestures like this will add up and restore our faith in humanity.