Japan World Cup fans clean stadium despite losing to Costa Rica, other countries' fans doing it too

Japanese at it again.

Belmont Lay | November 28, 2022, 04:10 PM

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Japan World Cup football fans once again stayed behind to clean up the stadium in Qatar despite watching their side lose 0-1 to Costa Rica.

Their act of cleanliness at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium was hailed by Fifa on Twitter.

Fifa wrote in its caption:

In victory or defeat, there is always respect.

Thank you for helping to #SaveThePlanet, Japan fans!

Despite the sweltering Sunday afternoon desert heat, the Japanese fans decked out in blue and white team colours got to work to perform their janitorial role once the final whistle was blown -- to the delight of stadium cleaning staff.

“For Japanese people, this is just a normal thing to do,” said Hajime Moriyasu, the coach of the Japanese team, according to The New York Times.

“When you leave a place, you have to leave it cleaner than it was before.”

The Japanese have been hailed for cleaning up after themselves after two matches so far -- with the national team also getting in on the act.

Action inspiring others

The civic-mindedness of the Japanese has won plaudits and inspired fans from other countries to clean up after themselves after games.

French football fans were seen cleaning up the stadium after a match.

Mixed reactions by Japanese

The global spotlight on the stadium-cleaning antics has caused pride, amusement and embarrassment for some Japanese, NYT additionally reported.

While some feel proud that Japan is hailed for doing something wholesome, others were taken aback that something as basic as maintaining hygiene has been blown up this way.

Those who felt embarrassed attributed their sense of discomfort to the fact that it has always been only a small minority of Japanese -- probably fewer than a hundred out of thousands -- who would actively stay behind to clean the stadiums, and this practice can hardly be understood to be a population-wide phenomenon or representative of all Japanese people.

Elevating one small facet of Japanese culture over many other attributes also feels reductionist, it was reported.

NYT further reported that the Japanese Football Association on Sunday passed out hundreds of blue plastic bags that had the phrase “Thank You” written in English, Japanese and Arabic, but only a few dozen fans, out of the thousands present, joined the effort.

Moreover, there is also a sense that some who participate in the cleaning up of the World Cup stadiums might be consciously doing so for the limelight.


Japan's loss in their second game throws Group E wide open.

Top photo via Fifa Twitter