Japan may have bowed out of the World Cup in Russia but they may just go down in history as having the most respectful and lovely football fans in the whole world.
During Monday night’s game, Japan’s skill and intensity exposed Belgium’s tactical plans to leave the star studded Belgium side on the brink of defeat and looking like Japan would finally win a knockout game at the World Cup after two failed tries.
But despite going into the second half with a two goal lead after two magnificent early goals from Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui, it wasn’t to be for the clear under dogs, as goals from Jan Vertonghen (69′), Marouane Fellaini (74′) and Nacer Chadli (90+4′) condemned the Asian nation to a crushing last-16 defeat.
This left both the Japan team and devoted fans in tears, but the dejected fans put aside their understandable heartbreak, to stay and clear up all the rubbish around their section of the Rostov Arena after the final whistle.
Touching images showed numerous fans continuing a tradition they have maintained throughout not just this World Cup but also the last World Cup in 2014.
On Tuesday FIFA General Director Priscilla Janssens tweeted a picture of Japan’s spotless dressing room, praising the team and its fans for their tidy-up efforts and manners and also writing that the team had even left a thank-you note in Russian for the hosts.
“This is the Japanese dressing room after losing to Belgium in the 94′ minute,” she wrote.
“Thanked their fans in the stadium, cleaned up everything (bench and dressing room) and spoke to media. Even left note with ‘thank you’ in Russian.
“What an example for all teams!! Privilege to work with!”
The tweet had already been shared more than 45,000 times and liked nearly 80,000 times just a few hours later