After World Cup Heartbreak, Japan's Fans Cleaned up Stadium and Team Tidied Locker Room

After crashing out of the World Cup via a last-minute goal from Belgium, Japan's national soccer team picked themselves up and tidied their locker room, bench and dugout, as the fans in the stadium also cleaned up after themselves.

Posting a photo of the spotless Japanese locker room after the defeat—in which the team surrendered a 2:0 lead—FIFA general coordinator Priscilla Janssens commended Japan's neatness as "an example for all teams" on Twitter.

"[They] even left note with 'thank you' in Russian," Janssens added, referring to a small piece of paper expressing gratitude to the host nation. The post caught the attention of many, including Japanese news agency Kyodo, although Janssens has subsequently deleted it without explanation.

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Japan fans look dejected following their sides defeat in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Belgium and Japan at Rostov Arena on July 2, 2018 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. Carl Court/Getty Images

The Japanese team's commitment to leaving the Rostov-on-Don stadium and the tournament itself in a courteous manner felt even more impressive, as only 15 minutes from the final whistle they were on the verge of extending their stay in Russia and knocking out star-studded Belgium in the process. Les Diables Rouges' Marouane Fellaini headed home to bring the score level to 2-2 in the 74th minute. Then, seconds before full time his compatriot Nacer Chadli completed a Belgian comeback with a winning goal that dumped the Samurai Blue out of the competition.

Cameras in the stadium showed Japanese fans repeating their widely commended habit of picking up litter from across their stands despite witnessing a dispiriting defeat in the city of Saransk, just as they did when their side won in the last round of the competition.

"You often hear people say that football is a reflection of culture," Japan-based soccer journalist Scott McIntyre told the BBC at the time. "An important aspect of Japanese society is making sure that everything is absolutely clean and that's the case in all sporting events."

Fans of Senegal, the last African side to crash out of this World Cup, also showed the same predilection for leaving the arena in the same state they found it, as video of supporters clearing litter to help staff at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow after the team's victory over Poland, went viral online.

Although the two countries' fans appear to share mores on cleanliness, Senegal has officially filed a complaint about Japan's progress in the competition. Japan went ahead in the competition at Senegal's expense in controversial fashion, after the two countries drew in their match, then earned the same amount of points in all other matches, scored the same goal total and had the same goal difference after the first leg.

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The last remaining deferential was their disciplinary record and since Japan had received fewer yellow cards, the team went through. In a bid to secure a place in the next round however, Japan played the final few minutes of their last match at walking pace, avoiding the risk of conceding more goals or bookings.

After World Cup Heartbreak, Japan's Fans Cleaned up Stadium and Team Tidied Locker Room | World
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