Pitchside

Japanese football stars’ amazing tribute to earthquake victims

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Footballers are often vilified for being self-absorbed, overpaid prima donnas, but one of Japan's top sides has turned that perception on its head with a wonderful, touching tribute in their goal celebration on Tuesday.

When Sanfrecce Hiroshima's Tsukasa Shiotani scored a goal in their Asian Champions League match against Australia's Central Coast Mariners, he and his team-mates gathered together to create a touching display to remember the 15,884 people who died in Japan's devastating Tohoku earthquake in 2011.

Sanfrecce's stars lay on the turf to spell out "3.11", referring to the March 11th date of the disaster - three years ago to the day.

The 9.0 magnitude earthquake - the biggest ever to hit Japan, and the fifth largest ever recorded - and the 40m tsunami which followed it destroyed 400,000 buildings and caused a string of disasters across the country, including the horrendous meltdown at Fukushima.

Sadly, Sanfrecce went on to lose their match 2-1, but that fact will quickly be forgotten - unlike the memory of their gesture of support and sympathy for the tragedy that struck their compatriots.

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