SAMARA, RUSSIA - It was perhaps fitting that the World Cup match between Senegal and Japan — whose fans have received international acclaim for their cleanliness in the stadium — ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw Sunday in Ekaterinburg.
Both teams won their opening games of the World Cup, yet it was the two sets of fans who grabbed the headlines.
Videos posted on social media showed Japanese fans cleaning up after themselves in the wake of their win over Colombia, picking up litter under the seats in their section of the stadium.
Senegal fans were also filmed being similarly hygienic following their win over Poland.
Both sets of fans were at it again Sunday, making the job of the volunteer cleaners at Ekaterinburg Arena much easier.
“Also we like to try and support our team by waving the blue big dustbin bags, so I think like we make the most of the dustbin bags as well,” said Japanese fan Wataru Morita outside the stadium.
“So we are looking forward to showing our culture to the world through this competition as well.”
“You know, we have to do that. We have to show the world that we are doing something nice,” said Senegal fan Gora Ndoye after the match.
“We don’t come here to leave the rubbish here. We have to take it out after every game to show the world that we are nice people.”
“When we do that, next time wherever we go we have a good reception, that is why we are doing it.”
Speaking before the match, Japanese defender Maya Yoshida said that the Samurai Blue players were also fastidious in their cleanliness.
“Well our locker room after the match, compared to those in the Premier League, is much cleaner,” said the Southampton defender.
“In terms of fans, we were very impressed. For our fans to come from Japan to Russia and be praised by the media and the whole world. . . . We are very proud of that.”
“There is a saying in Japan that we must leave things cleaner than it was at the time we came to a place. . . . That is one of the virtuous things fans are supposed to do. So that’s what they did,” he said.
Scott North, a professor of sociology at Osaka University, says that maintaining high standards of cleanliness is ingrained in the culture.
“Cleaning the school is a part of the school day and an aspect of the education that students receive,” he explained.
“Cleaning up contributes to keeping the environment livable in the densely populated cities and is also an expression of care and regard for one’s neighbors,” North said.
“I think the Japanese are proudly conscious of their reputation as a clean culture, and they probably expect other places to be somewhat less so.”