World Cup 2022: why Japanese fans voluntarily clean stadiums

It has been one of the most viral moments of the 2022 FIFA World Cup so far, with Japanese fans cleaning up stadiums after matches are over.

Fans of the Japan national football team cleaned up Qatar’s Khalifa International Stadium after their victory over Germany on Wednesday (Thursday AEDT).

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

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

Stadium for cleaning people.

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

Takao Teramoto, a Japanese footballer and coach based in Australia, told SBS News that “Japanese people are very polite” and the fans’ actions reflect Japan’s respectful culture.

“We would behave the same whether we won this game or lost to Germany,” he said.
He said that the Japanese learn the “importance of politeness” from an early age.
“We must not forget to respect our rivals. I believe that they did so out of respect 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 the head coach of the Japanese style football school. in Sydney, which he says teaches respect and manners along with football.
“I teach children not only football, but also etiquette,” he said.
“I am proud of the Japanese fans. I hope that football will bring peace to the world. Thank you. Go-go. Japan!!”
Lecturer in Japanese Studies, University of Sydney, Dr. Masafumi Monden, said that Japanese children in elementary school are taught to clean up after themselves.

“As far as I understand, we are taught from elementary school to keep clean the things we use, like the classroom,” he said.

“There is a Japanese saying, ‘Tatsu tori ato wo nigosazu’, which literally means: a bird in flight does not smudge its tracks,” he said.

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

Japan’s next match will be against Costa Rica on Sunday, November 27 at 21:00 ET.