Movement started by Japanese soccer fans spreads beyond Japanese team’s opponents and group, could be changing the face of sports fandom.
Last Tuesday, Japan’s national soccer team pulled off an unexpected win over Colombia, sending fans bursting with joy out onto the streets of Tokyo to celebrate. Unfortunately for fans of the Samurai Blue, in its second World Cup game, against Senegal, the team wasn’t quite able to achieve the same results on the field, but there was a heartwarming repeat performance going on in the stands.
— ちょんまげ隊長ツンさん@トモロシ (@tsunsan) June 19, 2018
Since the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Japanese soccer fans have become internationally famous for cleaning up their section of the stadium after watching their team play, win or lose. Following the Japan-Colombia game, Colombian fans were spotted taking up the practice, and once again, after the Japan-Senegal match ended in a 2-2 tie, Senegalese supporters were seen picking up trash before leaving the venue.
#TyCSportsMundial Senegal consiguió un triunfo histórico. Pero sus hinchas en lugar de festejar a minutos de terminado el partido, se encargan de limpiar su sector antes de retirarse. #RESPECT. pic.twitter.com/RiKovpfmoT
— TyC Sports (@TyCSports) June 19, 2018
This new tradition is no longer confined to games in which the Japanese team plays, either. After Uruguay defeated Saudi Arabia 1-0, fans of the winning team took a break from high-fiving and instead used their hands to reach down and pick up garbage from under and around their seats.
— Ovación (@Ovaciondigital) June 20, 2018
Uruguay and Saudi Arabia are in Group A, while Japan is in Group H.
— Mariana J. Rodríguez (@mariana4589) June 20, 2018
And while the loss no doubt left a bitter taste in the mouths of Saudi fans, they were by no means too salty to pitch in.
— Arab News (@arabnews) June 20, 2018
While the primary point of any sports competition is to determine who’s the best, international events like the World Cup also provide an opportunity for fans, even those without a preexisting interest in internationalism, to rub shoulders with people from other countries. Regardless of which team takes the trophy, fans of all nations give, and receive, a bit of their cultures, and it’s great to see a custom from famously clean and polite Japan catching on under soccer’s brightest spotlight.