Japan may have lost the match, but they got brownie points for something not related to athletic skill.

On February 1, Japan faced Qatar at the AFC Asian Cup 2019. The team gave their all to try and take home first place for the first time since 2011, but they unfortunately lost the match against their opponents. However, they stirred up some buzz for something besides their mad soccer skills.

When Asian Cup staff checked the dressing room used by Japan’s soccer team, they found it absolutely spotless. The players even left a message saying, “Thank you!” in three languages.

▼ If this isn’t good sportsmanship, then we don’t know what is.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Japan’s reputation for cleanliness has made headlines (and yes, we’re talking about more than just Marie Kondo). You may recall how Japanese fans cleaned the stands at the Brazil World Cup in 2014. Their behavior at sports events in particular inspired fans of other teams to do the same.

Twitter users from around the world chimed in with their own comments about the clean locker room.

“I love Japanese players and their fans. They congratulated Qatar even though they lost. Respect.”
“Go Blue Samurais! #respect”
“One of the most beautiful things I saw today on Twitter”
Everytime this topic comes up, I hear the opinion ‘They’re putting cleaning workers out of their jobs,’ from around the world. I really don’t understand it. I think it’s obvious that professional cleaners have a thorough cleaning process when the venue closes. Just because it’s already somewhat clean doesn’t mean you don’t have to work, right?
Right, because it’s already somewhat clean, that means you have time to make it even cleaner by dusting the tops of shelves or wiping doorknobs. That makes it even more sanitary. Maybe that’s a Japanese way of thinking?

Still, that’s not to say big events in Japan are always free from mess, especially around Shibuya at Halloween or at central parks during hanami season.

Nonetheless, we commend the Japanese soccer team for their behavior at the Asian Cup 2019. Their good manners have only contributed to Japan’s overall image of cleanliness.

Featured image: Twitter/@afcasiancup
[ Read in Japanese ]