FIFA World Cup 2022: Why Japanese fans are voluntarily cleaning stadiums

highlights
  • Supporters of the Japan national soccer team clear rubbish at the Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar.
  • The actions took place during and after their World Cup match win against Germany.
  • It’s part of a tradition that began in 2018.
It has been one of the viral moments of the 2022 FIFA World Cup so far: Japanese fans cleaning up the stadiums after the games have concluded.

Supporters of the Japan national soccer team were seen cleaning up the Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar after their win against Germany on Wednesday (Thursday AEDT).

Fans of the Japanese team, known as the Blue Samurai, distributed hundreds of garbage bags and cleaned up the trash during and after the game.

It’s part of a tradition started by Blue Samurai fans at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia when they cleaned the stadium after a 3-2 defeat by Belgium in the round of 16.

Person cleaning phase.

Heartbroken Japanese fans clean the stands of the stadium after Japan were defeated by Belgium in their round of 16 match at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Rostov, Russia, July 2, 2018. Recognition: Zhongzhenbin/AP

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

“We would have behaved the same whether we had won or lost that game against Germany,” he said.
He said the Japanese learn the importance of politeness from a young age.
“We mustn’t forget to respect our opponents. I think they did it out of respect for everyone: players, coaches, referees and staff,” he said.
“I hope that the meaning of this feeling will be conveyed to the world.”
Mr. Teramoto is the head coach of the Japanese-style soccer school in Sydney, which he says teaches respect and manners alongside football.
“I not only teach children football, but also etiquette,” he said.
“I’m proud of the Japanese fans. I hope football brings peace to the world. Thank you. Go, go. Japan!!”
Lecturer in Japanese Studies at the University of Sydney, Dr. Masafumi moons, said Japanese children are taught to clean up after themselves in elementary school.

“My understanding is that from elementary school, we’re taught to keep what we use clean, like the classroom,” he said.

“There is a Japanese proverb ‘Tatsu tori ato wo nigosazu’, literally: The flying bird does not cover its tracks,” he said.

‚ÄúThat means when you leave a place, don’t leave it messy, leave it at least as clean as you found it.
“While of course not everyone follows, even in Japan, ideas like these are embedded in our thinking and practice to show respect and appreciation for what we use.”
Blue Samurai fans were also seen cleaning up rubbish after the opening match of this year’s World Cup between Qatar and Ecuador.

Japan’s next game is on Sunday November 27 at 21:00 AEDT against Costa Rica.

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