FIFA World Cup 2022: Why Japanese fans voluntarily clean stadiums

Highlights
  • Supporters of the Japanese national soccer team clean up rubbish at the Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar.
  • These actions occurred during and after their World Cup victory over Germany.
  • It’s part of a tradition that started in 2018.
It has been one of the viral moments of the 2022 FIFA World Cup so far: Japanese fans clean up stadiums after matches.

Supporters of the Japanese national soccer team are seen cleaning the Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar after their victory over Germany on Wednesday (Thursday, AEDT).

Fans of the Japanese team known as Samurai Blue handed out hundreds of trash bags and cleaned up trash during and after the match.

It’s part of a tradition started by Samurai Blue fans at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, when they cleaned the pitch after losing 3-2 to Belgium in the Round of 16.

Sorrowful Japanese fans clean the stadium stand after Japan’s defeat to Belgium in the round of 16 during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Rostov, Russia, July 2, 2018. attributed to him: Zhong Zhenbin / AP

“Japanese people are very polite,” Takao Teramoto, a Japanese soccer player and coach who lives in Australia, told SBS News, and the fans’ actions represented Japan’s respect-driven culture.

“We would have acted the same way whether we won or lost this match against Germany,” he said.
He said Japanese people learn “the importance of courtesy” from an early age.
“We must not forget to respect our opponents. I think they did it because of the respect they have for everyone: players, coaches, referees and staff,” he said.
“I hope that the importance of this feeling will be conveyed to the world.”
Mr. Teramoto is a head coach of a Japanese soccer school in Sydney, which he says teaches respect and manners as well as football.
“I not only teach children football, but also etiquette,” he said.
“I am proud of the Japanese fans. May football bring peace to the world. Thank you. Go, go, Japan!!”
Lecturer in Japanese Studies at the University of Sydney Dr. Masafumi MondenAnd the He said Japanese children learn in elementary school to clean up after themselves.

“My understanding,” he said, “is that we learn, from elementary school, to keep clean what we use, for example, the classroom.”

“There is a Japanese proverb that says, ‘Tatsuo tori ato wo nigusazu’, literally: A bird that takes flight does not lose its tracks,” he said.

This means that when you leave a place, do not leave it in a mess, but leave it at least as clean as the state in which you found it.
“While, of course, not everyone follows it even in Japan, ideas like this are built into our thinking and practice, to show respect and appreciation for what we use.”
Samurai Blue fans were also seen cleaning up trash after the opening match of this year’s World Cup between Qatar and Ecuador.

Japan’s next match is against Costa Rica on Sunday 27 November at 9pm AEST.

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