2022 World Cup fact check: Japan fans clean up stadium

A real video showing Japanese fans picking up trash at a World Cup stadium was reversed to appear as though the fans were spreading trash.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup has been underway for eight days as of Nov. 28 and will continue through Dec. 18. One of the biggest upsets so far in the tournament was Japan’s  2-1 victory over Germany on Nov. 23. 

A viral tweet posted on Nov. 27 claims Japanese fans left the stadium a mess after the win. A video with more than 5 million views, posted with the tweet, appears to show fans taking trash out of bags and planting them in the stadium.

“Footage of Japan fans taking litter out of a bag and leaving it all over the stadium whilst laughing and smiling. Disgraceful scenes,” the tweet said.

THE QUESTION

Were Japanese fans spreading trash in a World Cup stadium?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER 

This is false.

No, the fans were not spreading trash – they were picking it up. The video was reversed to make the false claim. It’s common in Japanese culture to pick up trash in public places, such as stadiums. 

WHAT WE FOUND

Using InVid, a video forensics tool, VERIFY analyzed the keyframes of the video and conducted a reverse image search of the frames. 

The original, real video was posted to the Alkass Sports Channel Twitter account on Nov. 23. Alkass Sports is a licensed broadcaster of the FIFA World Cup and is operated by the government of Qatar. 

The tweet, written in Arabic and translated via Google Translate, says: “Despite the victory over Germany, the Japanese fans do not forget their traditions after the end of the match.” 

In the real video, the fans are actually seen picking up trash and placing it in trash bags.

The edited viral tweet and video posted on Nov. 27 shows a portion of the video posted by Alkass, beginning at the 57-second mark. But, that video was edited and reversed, giving the appearance that the people in the video were pulling the trash out of the bag, instead of placing the trash in the bag. 

In the viral video, people can be seen walking backwards, further confirming the video was edited and reversed. 

Thousands of people commented on the viral video or retweeted it saying the video was reversed, and criticized the poster for editing the video. Some people pointed out that cleaning up after events is part of Japanese culture

“For Japanese people, this is just the normal thing to do,” Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu told The Associated Press. “When you leave, you have to leave a place cleaner than it was before. That’s the education we have been taught. That’s the basic culture we have. For us, it’s nothing special.”

A spokeswoman for the Japanese Football Association told the Associated Press it’s supplying 8,000 trash bags to help fans pick up after matches with “thank you” messages on the outside written in Arabic, Japanese, and English. VERIFY reached out to the Japanese Football Association independently but did not hear back at the time of publication. 

During the 2018 World Cup, fans from Japan and Senegal were also spotted cleaning up the stadiums there. 

The VERIFY team works to separate fact from fiction so that you can understand what is true and false. Please consider subscribing to our daily newsletter, text alerts and our YouTube channel. You can also follow us on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Learn More »

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