The World Cup might have left a sour taste in a few people’s mouths, thanks to some Academy Award-worthy acting and ridiculous diving, but if there’s one team that everyone can respect, it’s Japan. Yeah, yeah, they were eliminated in their Round-of-16 heart breaker on Monday–during which they were up 2-0 until Belgium answered, to not only tie the game, but squeak in the winning goal at literally the last possible moment. We know. But just because Japan lost doesn’t mean they didn’t win. In fact, they went out with a bang. A classy, amazing, tear-inducing bang.
Despite their devastating loss, Team Japan left Russia with their heads held high and showed just how honoured they were to be part of the tournament.
Amazing from Japan.
This is how they left the changing room after losing v Belgium: cleaned it all.
And in the middle, have left a message to Russia: “Spasibo” (Thank you) pic.twitter.com/lrwoIZt2pR
— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) July 3, 2018
The photo, shared by a FIFA official, showed the team not only left their locker room in tip-top shape but they also wrote a simple thank you note. In Russian.
This is in keeping with Japan’s fans who, unlike most other spectators who leave the stadium in near shambles, brought their own garbage bags and cleaned the stands after their opening game against Colombia.
This is my favourite moment of the World Cup so far; Japan fans picking up litter after their victory vs Columbia. The lessons in life we can take from the game. Why I support 🇯🇵 #class✅#respect✅#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/FyYLhAGDbi
— Christopher McKaig (@Coachmckaig) June 19, 2018
Come on! How awesome is that? That’s just respect and class right there.
“It’s not just part of the football culture but part of Japanese culture,” Japan-based football journalist Scott McIntyre told the BBC. “You often hear people say that football is a reflection of culture. An important aspect of Japanese society is making sure that everything is absolutely clean and that’s the case in all sporting events and certainly also in football.”
Japan’s agonizing loss on Monday still wasn’t enough to keep their fans from doing what has been instilled in them since a young age.
Japan, the team and its fans, certainly know how to bring beauty back to this game. Not sure what the rest of the tournament will be like but it’s clear the Japanese left their mark. No offence to Belgium but, damn you, Belgium!
We kid, though. Hell, even their players were a little sad to see them go.
Now it’s off to the quarters for Belgium, who next face Brazil and, more notably, Neymar and his aforementioned ridiculousness. Bring on the ugly. Sigh, we miss you already, Japan.
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