World Cup: Japan fans win praise for cleaning up stadium after match - not involving their own team

Japanese fans have won plaudits already at the Qatar World Cup. (Screenshot from Omar Al-Farooq/Instagram)
Japanese fans have won plaudits already at the Qatar World Cup. (Screenshot from Omar Al-Farooq/Instagram)

They may not start their World Cup campaign until Wednesday, but Japan are already winning friends off the pitch after some of their fans were seen cleaning up parts of the stadium their team weren’t even playing in.

On the pitch, the Japan national team are accustomed to bowing to the opposition fans post-match. And on Sunday, Japan fans at the Al Bayt Stadium went viral after collecting bags of litter following Qatar’s opening defeat to Ecuador in Doha.

Omar Farooq, an influencer from Bahrain who has millions of YouTube subscribers, was left in awe following the act of goodwill as he documented the moment to his followers on Instagram. "Someone convince me that this is normal," he told his audience.

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“We are Japanese, and we do not leave rubbish behind us, and we respect the place,” one fan told Farooq, who also joined in to help the Japanese.

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“This is a thing I heard about, but I never thought it was this real. Wow,” he added. Fans were also seen picking up Qatari and Ecuador flags, to which Farooq simply said: “Respect”.

This isn't the first time that Japanese fans have carried out post-match kindness.

In 2014, Japan lost its World Cup opener 2-1 to Ivory Coast, but that didn’t stop fans from cleaning the stadium before they left.

At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, fans were also seen cleaning stadiums, while the squad left their changing room spotless.

It followed a heartbreaking defeat to Belgium, who rallied from 2-0 down to win 3-2. The squad still left a message saying ‘Thank You’ on the changing room table.

On Wednesday, thousands of Japan fans are expected to be in attendance for their opening match against Germany at the Khalifa International Stadium. Expect more of the same from the Japanese fans, win or lose.