7 Unforgettable Acts Of Sportsmanship From Champions On And Off The Field At World Cup 2018

The spirit of the global game is strong.

Since June, the World Cup has had millions of soccer fans glued to their TVs to watch their home teams compete. But in just a few days, the tournament will come to an end, and one of the remaining teams โ€” France, England, Croatia, and Belgium, as of this writing โ€” will earn the title of world champion.

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We at A Plus love the many shows of good sportsmanship that have taken place on and off the field. Some of our favorites acts of kindness have gone viral, and these seven, in particular, deserve a shout-out because they celebrate the spirit of World Cup. Here's an encore recap of some of our favorite moments.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo helps injured Edinson Cavani off the field.

Showing respect for other players regardless of what flag they fly is the epitome of sportsmanlike conduct, and our No. 1 pick for best World Cup moments of sportsmanship. With so much at stake in winning the Uruguay-Portugal match, Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo showed us that neither the clock nor the points matter when he rushed to help a struggling Edinson Cavani off the field after Uruguay's hero suffered a leg injury in the Round of 16. This act of kindness scored Ronaldo kudos from around the globe and especially on Twitter.

2. Women in Iran watch a match in a stadium that traditionally bans them.

Good sportsmanship isn't only about being a good sport. It's about being fair and generous. Although Iran lost to Spain in the team's World Cup match, all was not lost. Women in Iran made history by watching live broadcasts of their national team play on the group stage inside Tehran's Azadi Stadium โ€” something they haven't been allowed to do in nearly 40 years, since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. 

3. Team Japan cleans its own locker room and leaves a note.

Sports Correspondent tweets photo of Team Japan's "Thank you" note and spotless locker room after their loss to Belgium. twitter.com

After its loss to Belgium, the Japanese soccer team displayed the ultimate act of honor and applied the old adage of leaving a place in better shape than you found it. In a noble gesture of good sportsmanship, they left their locker room immaculately clean with a gracious "Spasibo" note ("Thank you" in Russian) to show their gratitude to the hosting country. After all, where would any sport be without worthy opponents? Thank you, Team Japan, for your good sportsmanship at World Cup 2018.

4. Team Japan and Team Senegal fans clean up the stadium.

Long after most fans have left the stadium and remnants of their celebratory trash behind, the clean-up crew has a lot of work to do. But they weren't alone after the Japan-Senegal World Cup match. Both Japan and Senegal fans teamed-up in the ultimate act of World Cup integrity by remaining in the stadium for a post-game clean-up, proving that sportsmanship isn't limited to the athletes out on the field.

5. All-girls team makes history at the 2018 World Cup opening tournament.

Soccer players, ages 13 to 16, made history as the first-ever all-female "ball boys" group ("ball girls") to retrieve and deliver balls during the World Cup opener. These young players hail from the small town of Agryz, Russia, and brought with them the spirit of football sportsmanship. Their drive to compete at the same level as the boys brought them to this point, which is why these female footballers made one of the seven unforgettable moments in World Cup history.

6. Team Sweden consoles Switzerland's Manuel Akanji after his deflection play leads to Sweden's victory.

Fox Sports posted a video on Twitter displaying the sportsmanlike humanity of Team Sweden comforting Switzerland player Manuel Akanji after his deflection play ended up sealing the fate of the game for his own team. Sometimes we forget we're human and carry the burden of disappointment on our backs when we feel like we've let our teammates down. How humbling it is to remember that each one of them has been there before. For every win, someone has to lose, but how you treat each other in the process is what really matters. 

7. Marcus Rashford's ever-helping hand.

Rashford exemplifies what sportsmanship is all about, never failing to lend a hand to opposing team members. www.instagram.com

Say what you will about Manchester United, but one cannot argue the fact that Marcus Rashford's conduct on the field during more than one World Cup match is exemplary of sportsmanship. You never know when you'll be competing against a fellow teammate or just another human being on an opposing team, but we can all agree that respect has gone a long way during the 2018 World Cup tournament. 

Perhaps the next season of American football can top these moments? You never know, but one thing is for sure โ€” these moments are unforgettable, so let's tip our hats to these classy, sportsmanship trendsetters. Gooooaaall!

Cover image: Marco Iacobucci EPP / Shutterstock.com

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