SINGAPORE: On Monday (Dec 5), Japan bowed out of the World Cup in Qatar with a heartbreaking loss on penalties to Croatia. Though their bid to reach the quarter-finals for the first time was thwarted, the Samurai Blue had impressed with their lung-bursting heroics on the pitch.
Off the pitch, Japan supporters too were winning the hearts of fans around the world. Incredulous football fans were awed by videos on social media of Japanese fans picking up rubbish in the stadium post-game – even in matches where their team was not playing.
After their loss to Croatia, where they might have been forgiven for leaving their trash behind with their broken dreams, Japanese fans still cleaned up after themselves while wiping away their tears.
Perhaps this might be new to those who haven’t followed them, but Japanese fans have always been known to be great travelling supporters. In 2014, after the Samurai Blue lost 4-0 in an international friendly against Brazil at the Singapore Sports Hub, the Japanese fans left their seats spick and span.
So if this isn’t new, why are we still so taken by it? It says more about us than we think: Japanese fans remind us of what we would like to do, but often don’t.
UNIQUELY JAPANESE BEHAVIOUR?
What makes Japanese sports fans so different from others around the world? One comment from a Japanese supporter struck me – that they did it out of respect for the venue and that it wasn’t for the cameras.