The World Cup has just started in Qatar and though Japan doesn't play until Sunday, Japanese fans have already been making a splash. Influencer Omar Farooq posted a video taken at the end of the opening match between Qatar and Ecuador. To his amazement, Japanese fans stayed behind at the end of the game to ensure that the stadium was spotless. That's right, they picked up everyone's trash.
In the video he posted to Instagram, Farooq is in awe of the fans, as they sweep the aisles holding trash bags and make sure that everything is spotless. This type of behavior isn't unusual in Japan, where everyone is taught from a young age that they must clean up before leaving. It's a cultural norm that is a sign of respect and it is clearly something carried forward into any space in any country.
“Someone convince me that this is normal. The Japanese fans decided to clean the stadium. It's not even their match,” exclaimed Farooq in the video, which has gone viral. “When I asked them, ‘Why are you cleaning something not related to you?', the answer was, ‘Japanese never leave rubbish behind us. We respect the place.'”
This isn't the first time that Japanese fans have shown their willingness to clean up at the World Cup. Even after their heartbreaking loss to Belgium in the final 16 of the 2018 World Cup, they made sure the stadium was spotless, just as they'd done during the entire competition.
“Cleaning up after football matches is an extension of basic behaviors that are taught in school, where the children clean their school classrooms and hallways,” Scott North, professor of sociology at Osaka University, told the BBC at the time. “With constant reminders throughout childhood, these behaviors become habits for much of the population.”
According to North, cleaning up at an international event like the World Cup is a way for the Japanese to show off their culture and demonstrate the pride they have in caring for the planet. So, for the remainder of the 2022 World Cup, expect these fans to continue their cleaning routine.
One influencer was shocked when he saw Japanese fans cleaning up the stadium after the opening game at the 2022 World Cup.
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Cleaning up after yourself—and others—is taught from a young age in Japan and Japanese fans first made a splash after tidying up the stadium during the 2018 World Cup.