Japan might not be one of the favourite teams to win the World cup neither are their fans among the most electrifying supporters in Qatar. However, at the end of the football festival, many would remember the Asian country for an uncommon tradition in the football world—the custom of cleaning the stadium when there is a victory and when there is a defeat.
Following Japan’s 2-1 win over Germany on Wednesday, the Japanese fans once again awed football lovers by cleaning the Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar. Although the win over Germany is one of the most upsetting results in the ongoing Qatar world cup, the fans refused to be carried away by the celebration. While other spectators left the Stadium early to beat the traffic, the Japanese soon appeared with several light blue disposable waste bags and joined in cleaning up the football arena.
The decision to clean up the stadium has surprised many, especially those seeing such a thing for the first time.
A custom, not a gesture
While many are awed by the rare act of cleanliness, the Japanese fans are actually surprised by the attention they receive. For them, cleaning up places like that is a routine, and there is absolutely nothing special about it.
Danno, one of the zealous Japanese fans, told Aljazeera the act is special to others but not to the people of Japan.
“What you think is special is actually nothing unusual for us. When we use the toilet, we clean it ourselves. When we leave a room, we make sure it’s tidy. That’s the custom,” Danno said.
“We can’t leave a place without making it clean. It’s a part of our education, everyday learning,” he added.
Saysuka, a female fan, said they did not clean up the stadium to gain publicity, but it was the tradition of the Japanese people to clean up places before they leave.
“Cleanliness and tidiness are like a religion to us in Japan, and we treasure it,” Saysuka said.
The most surprising thing about them is that the rubbish bags used in the cleaning process are brought to the stadium by the fans. Sometimes, fans carry multiple bags so they can distribute them to other countrymen who might need them.
“Everyone can learn from the Japanese,” a Twitter user wrote. “They have some of the cleanest cities in the world, and they each individually care about cleaning up after themselves and having a clean environment.”
A spotless dressing room left behind
To further show that the custom of cleanliness is for every Japanese, even the football stars were not left out. They cleaned the entire dressing room, leaving it as clean as new.
Pictures shared on social media showed the dressing room left behind like it was never used. None could be more grateful to the Japanese than those employed to clean up the stadium and the rooms, as there is absolutely no job left for them to do.
Sportbible wrote: “Japan left their dressing room spotless after the incredible World Cup win over Germany. Brilliant,” while sharing a picture of the team’s dressing room.
Sustaining the custom even in defeat
It is easy to attribute the behaviour of the fans to the team’s victory against the highly-rated German side. However, what happened during the 2018 world cup in Russia proved that even on difficult days, the tradition of cleanliness remains.
During a round of 16 games, Japan conceded a last-minute goal against Belgium in the last world cup. Despite the heartbreak that comes with conceding an injury-time goal, which means an exit from the world cup, the heartbroken fans took out their bags to clean up the stadium.
No wonder, Joe Pompliano, a sports analyst wrote on Twitter: “Japanese fans stay after each World Cup match (whether their team is playing or not) and help clean up the stadium. Pure class.”