World Cup Cleanup: Japanese Team, Fans Impress With Cleanliness

Nov 30, 2022

Thought Question: What cultural traditions or values are you most proud of?

Japan’s World Cup team might have failed to make a clean sweep of their opposition on the soccer field. Its players and fans, though, have still come away looking shiny. They've worked hard to leave the stadium tidier than they found it.

Japan's fans call their team Samurai Blue. The team stunned Germany with a 2-1 win in the opening round, and they celebrated as any winners might. However, international soccer officials (FIFA) were surprised by the condition of Japan’s locker room after the game. FIFA tweeted pictures of the space. It had been left “spotless” by Japan's players. Atop piles of neatly folded towels, the players left origami cranes and a thank-you note. It was written in Japanese and Arabic. That's the native language of host country Qatar.

Japanese culture has an appreciation for seiketsu, or cleanliness. Samurai Blue’s fans have gotten praise from around the world for how they treat the stands where they cheer their team. After every match, win or lose, Japan’s fans whip out blue bags and pick up trash. That’s regardless of whether they brought it or not.

"Winning or losing a match does not matter at all,” a Japanese fan told USA Today. “We brought these bags to support our team. And for Japanese people, cleaning (after the match) is just the normal thing to do.”

After an unexpected loss to Costa Rica on Sunday, Japan next plays Spain on December 1.

Other teams and fans of other countries have been inspired to tidy up, too. Perhaps soccer fever isn’t the only thing that’s catching on in Qatar.

Photo from Reuters.

The author’s purpose for writing the article is to _______. (Common Core RI.5.6; RI.6.6)
a. inform the reader about how the Japanese soccer team is performing at the World Cup
b. compare how different countries are demonstrating good sportsmanship at the World Cup
c. highlight how Japanese soccer fans are inspiring other countries to clean up after games at the World Cup
d. educate readers about the cultures of teams competing in the World Cup
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