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World Cup: Japan leaves spotless locker room, thank-you note

The Samurai Blue were eliminated in a heartbreaker on Monday, but their actions after the game scored a win.

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Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, generational studies. Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read

The Samurai Blue of Japan were eliminated from World Cup play on Monday. But the crushing defeat by Belgium didn't stop the Japanese national team from cleaning their locker room until it was spotless, and leaving behind a note thanking Russia for hosting them.

A tweet from sports correspondent Tancredi Palmeri showing Japan's immaculate locker room and a one-word thank you note has gone viral, with more than 12,000 likes and 6,000 retweets as of Tuesday morning. Palmeri noted that the photo was uploaded by a delegate from FIFA, the organization that runs the World Cup.

"Amazing from Japan," Palmeri tweeted. "This is how they left the changing room after losing v Belgium: cleaned it all. And in the middle, have left a message to Russia: "Spasibo" (Thank you)"

Japan's fans have been praised for staying after every game of the tournament, even Monday's heartbreaking loss, and cleaning up the stadium.

Twitter applauded the team and fans' attitudes. 

Wrote one Twitter user, "I love this! I'm not just appreciating the fact that they cleaned, but the fact that they stayed true to their values despite the disappointing situation they had just faced. I'm forced to ask myself, do I still upload my values even when I'm going through my worst moments?" 

Another called Japan an "amazing team" and praised the Japanese for bringing "a breath of fresh air" to the tournament.

Some other teams' fans were also noted for cleaning the stadiums after World Cup games, including Tunisia and Senegal. This was especially noticeable when Senegal and Japan played each other on June 24, and both sets of fans set to busily cleaning the stadium after the teams played to a 2-2 draw.

Even FIFA's official World Cup account highlighted the Japanese contribution to the tournament in a tweet after the team's elimination. "Thank you for contributing so much to a #WorldCup classic and for everything you've added to Russia 2018, Japan," the tweet read.

The World Cup continues without Japan on Wednesday, as Sweden knocked out Switzerland and England and Colombia prepared to play.

World Cup 2018: Find out how to watch, learn some trivia and more. 

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