There are many adjectives you might use to describe World Cup fans: passionate, loyal, rowdy, drunk…but clean probably doesn’t crack your top ten. After a victory, you’d think fans would be eager to take to the streets and celebrate, but after Japan’s surprising defeat of Columbia on Tuesday, Japanese fans stayed behind to help clean the stadium. They picked up wrappers, bags of food, cups, and even came prepared with their own garbage bags.
This is my favourite moment of the World Cup so far; Japan fans picking up litter after their victory vs Columbia. The lessons in life we can take from the game. Why I support 🇯🇵 #class✅#respect✅#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/FyYLhAGDbi
— Christopher McKaig (@Coachmckaig) June 19, 2018
Given Japanese culture’s focus on cleanliness, maybe it’s not as surprising as you think. Sheila Smith, a Japan expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, told Vox that “Japanese are typically very responsible about keeping public spaces clean… as guests, Japanese fans wanted to be sure they honored their hosts.” The Japanese government seems as pleased with the conduct of its fans, as it is with the performance of its soccer team. Takehiro Shimada, a spokesperson for the Embassy of Japan, told Vox that since childhood, Japanese people “learn to ‘cast no dirt into the well that gives you water.’ We truly respect our competition and appreciate the values and spirit of sportsmanship.”
And the Japanese might be starting a trend. After Senegal won against Poland on Tuesday, its fans also stayed behind to pick up trash, though it’s unclear if they were directly inspired by the Japanese.
Senegal fans cleaning their section, class ❤️ pic.twitter.com/cxJo0NpNEH
— infosmessi (@INFOSMESSl) June 19, 2018
Maybe there’s just something about a sweet soccer victory that brings out the good houseguest in all of us.