Japan’s soccer team and its fans maintained their admired reputation at the World Cup up until the bittersweet end.
After starting the game strong with an early 2-0 lead, Japan suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat against Belgium which made a rousing comeback before the game’s final whistle.
Japan’s supporters are crying over their team’s 3-2 World Cup loss to Belgium. The Red Devils came from 0-2 down to level the score and hit the winner in the 94th minute pic.twitter.com/PgMtCpF6M0
— Xinhua Sports (@XHSports) July 2, 2018
While the loss ended Japan’s otherwise memorable run in the tournament, the team and its supporters continued to display tremendous sportsmanship that amazed sports fans around the world.
The Japanese national team stayed on the field after the match to bow and pay tribute to their fans, who in turn, showered them with loud cheers.
— Marcus Gilmer (@marcusgilmer) July 2, 2018
Afterward, the club cleaned up their dressing room, leaving it spotless, and wrote a “thank you” note written in Russian.
“This is the Japanese dressing room after losing to Belgium in the 94′ minute,” wrote FIFA employee Priscilla Janssens on Twitter.
“Thanked their fans in the stadium, cleaned up everything (bench and dressing room) and spoke to media. Even left a note with ‘thank you’ in Russian. What an example for all teams!! Privilege to work with!”
(Photo: Twitter/Priscilla Janssens, FIFA coordinator) pic.twitter.com/HnnW5L47eW
— Mahesh Madusanka 🇱🇰❤️🇯🇵 (@MaheshNegombo) July 3, 2018
Meanwhile, Japanese supporters, who earned universal respect and admiration for cleaning stadiums after matches and making friends with other fans over anime, also cleaned up the areas they occupied in the stadium.
The simple yet touching gestures of Japanese fans and their team have elevated the Japanese World Cup delegation to a class unmatched in most international sporting events.
Featured Image via Twitter / Priscilla Janssens