Japan fans win praise for stadium cleaning at World Cup 2022 | Qatar World Cup 2022

Doha, Qatar // Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung //: – Japan’s stunning victory over Germany left soccer fans in disbelief on Wednesday.

Now, Samurai Blue fans are getting praise in Qatar for an off-field tradition that seems uniquely Japanese: cleaning pitches after other soccer fans leave.

In what is becoming an increasingly familiar sight, Japanese fans stayed behind after their team’s victory over Germany on Wednesday and helped clean up the Khalifa International Stadium.

Once the stadium started to empty, Japanese fans were seen grabbing the light blue disposable garbage bags and getting to work.

While the sight of onlookers staying behind to clean up may come as a surprise to many, for the Japanese it is not out of the ordinary.

“What you think is private is actually nothing out of the ordinary for us,” Dano, a Japanese fan, told Al Jazeera with a casual shrug.

Danno doesn’t understand why people think the gesture is weird.

“When we use the toilet, we clean it ourselves. When we leave the room, we make sure it is tidy. This is the custom,” he explained.

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“We cannot leave a place without cleaning it. It is part of our education, everyday learning.”

Trolls have begun on social media showing Japanese soccer fans with rubbish bags in the days following the opening match of the tournament, between Qatar and Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday.

In one of the publications, a man expressed his shock at a Japanese fan cleaning him inside Al Bayt Stadium long after most of the spectators had left and in a match in which the Japanese national team did not participate.

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Samurai Blue supporters have been cleaning soccer fields for a while now. Even defeat does not detract from their post-match mission.

During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Japan lost their round of sixteen match against Belgium with a stoppage time goal. Japanese fans were heartbroken, but this did not detract from their ability to take out their disposable garbage bag and go to work.

Sisuka, who spoke to Al Jazeera before the match against Germany, said she was aware that people observe their traditions but noted that fans do not do so for the sake of publicity.

“Cleanliness and elegance are like a religion for us in Japan and we cherish it,” she said, before opening her backpack to show her a trash can that she will use and distribute to others after the match.

While videos on social media of Japanese cleaning stadiums may be relatively new, discipline and organization are deeply rooted in Japanese culture. These properties are gaining a worldwide following through books and television shows.

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Japanese organization consultant Marie Kondo is now a global household name thanks to her books and a popular Netflix series on the subject.

Takeshi, a Japanese soccer fan who lives in the United States but grew up in Japan, says he learned marshalling as a child.

“We had to clean our rooms, our bathrooms, our classrooms, and then as we get older it becomes a part of our lives,” he said.

After Japan’s victory over Germany, Takeshi and his 13-year-old son Kaede stayed with their supporting classmates.

With Japan now three points on the table and two more matches in the group, fans and spectators can expect to be treated to more Japanese aesthetics, both on and off the football field.



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