"The entire European football family will stand united on the pitch this week before our matches, in order to express our deepest sympathy and full support to the Japanese people," UEFA president Michel Platini said at the time in announcing that all Champions League and Europa League matches would observe a minute of silence. "We wish them continued strength in tackling the subsequent problems following the tragedy."
I saw Del Piero play in Tokyo for the 1996 Intercontinental Cup and I liked the way he helped Japan after the earthquake with his charity t-shirt
- Yuto Nagatomo
Juventus captain Alessandro Del Piero was at the forefront of relief efforts in Italy. His 'ALE10FRIENDSFORJAPAN' charity t-shirts raised over €220,000 in donations, leading Inter defender Yuto Nagatomo to suggest that the Italian legend would do well to end his career in Japan.
With the number of Japanese players active in the Bundesliga, it's no small surprise that German fans were also aware of the disaster and did their best to help. Japanese flags dotted the stands in stadiums where players such as Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa and Schalke's Atsuto Uchida took the field. A kit signed by Kagawa was sold by a radio station for €7000, with proceeds donated to charity.
On the pitch, Japanese stars Uchida (right) and Tomoaki Makino sported t-shirts with written messages of support for their home country. They were joined by North Korea striker Jong Tae-Se, who was raised in Japan and played for J-League's Kawasaki Frontale before going to Germany.
In Spain, Valencia paid tribute to Japan when their players displayed shirts with their names written in Japanese script. Last December, world champions Barcelona took time from their Club World Cup preparations to meet children who were displaced by the disaster, donating to each a custom Barca shirt as a souvenir.
But even smaller clubs extended their generosity, such as Bulgaria's PFC Levski Sofia, who offered to host children without homes at a local sports complex.
America's Major League Soccer also contributed to relief efforts, auctioning autographed memorabilia through the MLS W.O.R.K.S. initiative and holding a moment of silence before the league's opening weekend. In Seattle, which boasts a large Asian community, Sounders supporters displayed Japanese flags in a pre-match tiff, and held a charity bowling tournament in cooperation with the club.
Across the Pacific | Seattle Sounders fans displayed solidarity with JapanShows of support also came from within Asia. Indian-Japanese attacking midfielder Arata Izumi organised donations from I-League fans, and a moment of silence was held before the next match of his club Pune FC.
A minute of silence and donation drives were also held in Australia before the A-League 2011 Grand Final, which took place just two days after the earthquake.
"This terrible event has shocked us all and I wanted the Japan Football Association to know that the thoughts of the entire Australian football community were with them at this time," Football Federation Australia chairman Ben Buckley said at the time.
Just months after the events of March 11, Japan's women's national team was able to repay in part the large kindness bestowed upon the nation by the global footballing community during the Women's World Cup in Germany.
"To our friends around the World - Thank you for your support," read a banner carried around the stadium by Nadeshiko Japan following their semi-final win over Sweden.
|ONE YEAR LATER