Tokyo (CNN) — It’s not often that it’s acceptable to open a bottle of champagne at 7 o’clock on a Monday morning, but this was one of those occasions.
David had beaten Goliath and the Japanese football fans crammed into a Tokyo bar had screamed themselves hoarse watching their national team play two-time winners the United States in the women’s World Cup final in Germany.
It was a rollercoaster of emotions for 200 fans; twice they thought their team had been beaten as the U.S. took the lead but twice they pulled it back.
The timing could not have been more anti-social as the game kicked off at 3.45a.m. local time. But apart from a few snoozing supporters, potentially due to the free-flowing beer rather than the late hour, the passion stayed alive throughout.
There were plenty of Japanese football shirts on show in the Footnik Bar in central Tokyo but with the men’s players’ names on the back — that could well change now.
“It wasn’t conceivable that Japan would win the World Cup, and it wasn’t even the men who did it but the women,” said Futoshi Arai, a fan from Tokyo.
“I was surprised, their games aren’t even aired on TV and they won the cup, it gave me goose-bumps.”
After the March earthquake, tsunami, nuclear and political crises, this country was overdue some good news.
As the team progressed through the competition against the odds, the nation was inspired by the team and it became about more than just football or a trophy.
“After the disaster, the whole country was in the spirit of trying their best. What we saw was the soul of Japan,” another Fan, Yasushi Tsuha, told CNN.
There were few dry eyes in the sports bar as the victorious Japanese players lifted the World Cup trophy for the first time. Men and women were overcome with emotion and pride in a team that few knew anything about before this competition.
The split between men and women was fairly even. Women who had no interest in football before had suddenly become die-hard followers.
When I see women like me giving so much spirit, it gives me energy to keep going in my daily life,” said Ayako Nishi.
Japan had been the underdog and the sentimental favorite before the match. Now they are the best in the world.
London (CNN) — One of the first journalists to go on the record and allege phone hacking at News of the World was found dead Monday, the British Press Association said.
Sean Hoare, a former News of the World employee who said Andy Coulson “encouraged” phone-hacking, “was discovered at his home in Watford, Hertfordshire, after concerns were raised about his whereabouts,” the press association said.
“The death is being treated as ‘unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious,’ ” the report quoted Hertfordshire police as saying.
The Guardian reported that Hoare had recently injured his nose and his foot in an accident. It was unclear whether those injuries were linked to his death.
Hoare had publicly accused News of the World of phone-hacking and using “pinging” — a method of tracking someone’s cell phone using technology that only police and security officials could access — according to the New York Times.
Hoare was one of the few sources who allowed his name to be used when speaking to the Times last year for an investigative report about allegations of phone-hacking by the British tabloid.
In his remarks, he specifically accused Andy Coulson — former editor of News of the World, who went on to become Prime Minister David Cameron’s communications director — of wrongdoing.