It was a heartbreaking way to go out, but fans and players left a lasting impression of sportsmanship and courtesy in Russia, one that won’t be easily forgotten.
A photo that has gone viral shows that Japan’s program left behind a fastidious locker room, along with a note that said “thank you” in Russian and was signed “Japan.” And it led to a wave of positive headlines and reports.
Even the Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt noticed, tweeting, “This is awesome.”
One reader explained to Watt: “This is a part of our culture. Japanese school age children would have also done this. After a school day, they clean their classrooms. They even make their lunches in class and clean up after. Very different culture.” Another pointed out that UCLA’s legendary coach John Wooden expected the same of his players.
Japan’s players had also saluted their supporters after the crushing loss.
And fans of the team, just as they had after Japan beat Colombia and (just as Senegal’s fans did), pushed disappointment aside and cleaned up the arena before they left.
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