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FC Barcelona expands Canadian academies, including Mississauga


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http://www.thestar.com/sports/soccer/2016/01/14/fc-barcelona-expands-canadian-academies-including-mississauga.html

 

Calling all future Lionel Messis, Luis Suarezs and Neymars — FC Barcelona is coming to town.

The board of directors for the Spanish soccer giants approved the creation of two new FC Barcelona academies Wednesday, one in Mississauga and the other in Edmonton.

“The purpose of these schools is to extend the methodology of Barça and the values of the club between boys and girls all over the world, guaranteeing them a quality sports training, under the direction of technicians who depend on the club,” the board said in a release.

The new Mississauga and Edmonton academies — known as FCB schools — will accept 300 players and be the second and third of their kind in the country. Barcelona’s first Canadian school opened at the Central Valley Sports Complex in Burnaby, B.C., last September.

Mississauga’s academy will be housed at the Hershey Sports Centre, while Edmonton’s will take place in Fuhr Sport Park. When they open in April, the club will have 19 FCB Schools on five continents.

The “great” response to Barca’s first school, access to elite facilities and an admirable sports culture motivated the club to expand its training centres across Canada, said Jordi Arasa, the technical director out West.

“You see soccer everywhere. You can just go driving and on every pitch at any time you will see people playing soccer,” Arasa said. “It’s everywhere. With that comes the feeling that, from all the areas, everybody wants to bring this to the next level.”

About 250 players, including 19 girls, from the under-6 to under-16 levels are signed up for the inaugural eight-month season in Burnaby.

 

Players can train either two or three times each week, with a competitive match every 15 days. Prices range from $950 plus tax to $2,950 plus tax, as well as the cost of uniforms.

BCN Sports, Barcelona’s Canadian partner, has conducted 29 camps across the country since 2013. Thirteen sessions were conduction in the Greater Toronto Area since then, with about 1,750 players participating.

Still, don’t expect any youngsters to be heading back to Spain to play in the big leagues immediately, Arasa said.

“It’s too soon to tell. In the future, we’ll see.”

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Anyone know about how this is going out west? I really hate how fractured developmental soccer is here. My son is a U12 who was invited (after a tryout) to join Sigma. I declined because I wasn't ready to spend the money on it. If this is a legitimate option, I have to choose between an OPDL, Sigma and this. Ugh.

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You don't really see these types of programs set up in Europe.  They tend to prey on parents who lack a knowledge of the game (generally in Canada, US, Asia and the Middle East).  PSG set up a similar program in Montreal this past summer (and a more limited one in Ottawa).  They don't tend to attract top-level players.  I recently saw a video on Youtube about the "PSG Academy Cup" - awful soccer.

Probably more a marketing angle than a direct cash grab, but I'm sure these clubs are back home laughing. 

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20 hours ago, shermanator said:

It is just me or do these type of academies just seem like money grabs by Barcelona?

I am a FCB club member, card-holding and voting, and I do not think that these are legit, mostly because the cost is way too high. There is no comittment to existing soccer culture, they do not really compete. And if they train well, that is fine, though: if you don't apply what you are learning on the pitch against arch rivals, there is no point. 

I looked at the licensed camps FCB had in Vancouver last summer, and I thought they were questionable, I was embarrassed.

Now if an FCB academy would get their teams into a High Performance league in any province, then perfect. Otherwise you have no proper filter, and no test for quality. That FCB has quality coaching, well true, but so would any proper team from Holland with less name, or France. Hell, even Rayo Vallecano has quality coaching and academies, there is no reason to think they would be worse in this model than FCB. But they could never charge as much. 

My kid plays competitive football in Barcelona for about 500 euros a year, plus gear, preseason 4-´5 matches and a thirty game league Oct-June, and the federation insurance on top. That is pretty well standard, top clubs do not charge more and even lower the price as they want to compete with the best they can find. The key is to compete, strive to promote, fear of relegation. Without that, great training is moot, except of course when kids are still pre-teen when it can matter.

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On January 15, 2016 at 11:32 AM, shermanator said:

It is just me or do these type of academies just seem like money grabs by Barcelona?

 

9 hours ago, Unnamed Trialist said:

I am a FCB club member, card-holding and voting, and I do not think that these are legit, mostly because the cost is way too high. There is no comittment to existing soccer culture, they do not really compete. And if they train well, that is fine, though: if you don't apply what you are learning on the pitch against arch rivals, there is no point. 

I looked at the licensed camps FCB had in Vancouver last summer, and I thought they were questionable, I was embarrassed.

Now if an FCB academy would get their teams into a High Performance league in any province, then perfect. Otherwise you have no proper filter, and no test for quality. That FCB has quality coaching, well true, but so would any proper team from Holland with less name, or France. Hell, even Rayo Vallecano has quality coaching and academies, there is no reason to think they would be worse in this model than FCB. But they could never charge as much. 

My kid plays competitive football in Barcelona for about 500 euros a year, plus gear, preseason 4-´5 matches and a thirty game league Oct-June, and the federation insurance on top. That is pretty well standard, top clubs do not charge more and even lower the price as they want to compete with the best they can find. The key is to compete, strive to promote, fear of relegation. Without that, great training is moot, except of course when kids are still pre-teen when it can matter.

Increases the club's visibility overseas and makes money. Win, win for the club.

For the parents who believe their little Johnny now has a chance to one day play for Barcelona, an illusion.

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56 minutes ago, Soccerpro said:

 

Increases the club's visibility overseas and makes money. Win, win for the club.

For the parents who believe their little Johnny now has a chance to one day play for Barcelona, an illusion.

It is not win-win for Barcelona, that is ridiculous. Do you honestly think the club with the best record and most spectacular play of the 21st century needs to do this to get exposure? It is senseless. And the money, for a club with our income?

All these academies do is extend the idea of licensing using the club name, you can buy underwear, or watches, or a bathrobe with the colours of your favourite club, because they license everything and there is always someone willing to pay the fee and try to make money off it. The problem here, is they are doing it with the game itself. Barça has a massive foundation doing socially relevant work through football the world over, we used to even put the Unicef name on the shirt for free: that is using football right. Not a false association of values, but I understand where it comes from, it is simply saying yes instead of no and then, trying to make sure they train properly, which of course they do. As do almost all clubs run seriously in the world. 

 

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9 hours ago, Unnamed Trialist said:

It is not win-win for Barcelona, that is ridiculous. Do you honestly think the club with the best record and most spectacular play of the 21st century needs to do this to get exposure? It is senseless. And the money, for a club with our income?

All these academies do is extend the idea of licensing using the club name, you can buy underwear, or watches, or a bathrobe with the colours of your favourite club, because they license everything and there is always someone willing to pay the fee and try to make money off it. The problem here, is they are doing it with the game itself. Barça has a massive foundation doing socially relevant work through football the world over, we used to even put the Unicef name on the shirt for free: that is using football right. Not a false association of values, but I understand where it comes from, it is simply saying yes instead of no and then, trying to make sure they train properly, which of course they do. As do almost all clubs run seriously in the world. 

 

Wait, if it's not a win for the club why are they doing it?

Edit: When you say it extends the idea of licensing do you mean that these academies are run as franchises who then buy licensed gear to resell? Because it seems the obvious reason they do it is, as you and Soccerpro have pointed out, is to extend the brand.

Edited by mserson
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I am no expert, just a long-time club member, and the club is owned by the members. 

I think I explained it above, they sell the rights to exploit the name, and there are all kinds of companies out there willing to pay to make money off the brand, paying the fee. Of course, there is are clauses that say that products with the FCB name have to fulfill certain standards, but that is basic: if you want to sell FCB cologne, it can't be toxic, and you can't be accused of using slave labour. That is across the board. So the licensed academies have to be careful on standards too, that is all. They actually have nothing to do with FCB as a football team, they are marketing. In fact, the income from them is a marketing item

In 2013-2014 we had 530 million in income, 169 from Marketing. The projection for 14-15 was slightly higher overall, but a lot more in marketing as the FIFA player signing and selling ban cut into transfer fees for sales of players. If you look at all the international partners, about 30 in total including EA, all represent way more than what any licensing would mean, except of course the shirt sponsorship, which is not a conventional licensing, licensing is negligible in the overall economy of the club.

What I am saying is that Barça academies in Canada are about as Barça as Barça toothpaste. It has to be proper toothpaste, it has to do the job and the Dental Associations have to recognize it as legit, but that is all. It is like buying Jessica Alba toothpaste, if you think you are going to get a Jessica Alba smile and if you don¡t you've been conned, then you are pretty dumb. So any parent thinking their kid is going to get anything special from a Barça academy experience, is about as dumb as a Jessica Alba toothpaste buyer or a Beckham cologne buyer.

EDIT: I say it is not win-win because, simply put, I believe we should be way more careful about licensing football with the name of Barça than with anything else, because the confusions are easy and I think it is unfair, while Barça toothpaste or bathmats are not.

FC Barcelona Toothpaste Strawberry/Raspberry

Edited by Unnamed Trialist
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1 hour ago, Unnamed Trialist said:

I am no expert, just a long-time club member, and the club is owned by the members. 

I think I explained it above, they sell the rights to exploit the name, and there are all kinds of companies out there willing to pay to make money off the brand, paying the fee. Of course, there is are clauses that say that products with the FCB name have to fulfill certain standards, but that is basic: if you want to sell FCB cologne, it can't be toxic, and you can't be accused of using slave labour. That is across the board. So the licensed academies have to be careful on standards too, that is all. They actually have nothing to do with FCB as a football team, they are marketing. In fact, the income from them is a marketing item

In 2013-2014 we had 530 million in income, 169 from Marketing. The projection for 14-15 was slightly higher overall, but a lot more in marketing as the FIFA player signing and selling ban cut into transfer fees for sales of players. If you look at all the international partners, about 30 in total including EA, all represent way more than what any licensing would mean, except of course the shirt sponsorship, which is not a conventional licensing, licensing is negligible in the overall economy of the club.

What I am saying is that Barça academies in Canada are about as Barça as Barça toothpaste. It has to be proper toothpaste, it has to do the job and the Dental Associations have to recognize it as legit, but that is all. It is like buying Jessica Alba toothpaste, if you think you are going to get a Jessica Alba smile and if you don¡t you've been conned, then you are pretty dumb. So any parent thinking their kid is going to get anything special from a Barça academy experience, is about as dumb as a Jessica Alba toothpaste buyer or a Beckham cologne buyer.

EDIT: I say it is not win-win because, simply put, I believe we should be way more careful about licensing football with the name of Barça than with anything else, because the confusions are easy and I think it is unfair, while Barça toothpaste or bathmats are not.

FC Barcelona Toothpaste Strawberry/Raspberry

Thanks very much for the clarification. Interesting stuff.

 

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1 hour ago, Unnamed Trialist said:

I am no expert, just a long-time club member, and the club is owned by the members. 

 

As a member are you able to bring your concerns to the board of this type of branding?

Agreed, very interesting.

Edited by MM2
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2 minutes ago, MM2 said:

As a member are you able to bring your concerns to the board of this type of branding?

Agreed, very interesting.

At FC Barcelona we vote, in elections, can initiate non-confidence motions, and of course express our opinions to board members and through club ombusdman office. Only if you have certain income do you get to sit on the economic commission, which basically spreads financial responsibility beyond the board itself. This is a clear problem, the law says anyone on the board has to be able to put up guarantees for a proportional part of the budget, so only the wealthy can sit on it as we now stand. It is less democratic for this reason than, say, being a citizen in a small city, where anyone could run for office. Still, all general assemblies allow questions, many members form lobbies, and elections are intensely disputed.

I happen to know the current head of professional sports at the club personally, he was former sports manager of the City of Barcelona when I worked there, then junior minister for sports in Madrid. If I wanted I could get into things with him, but there is a lot to talk about, a lot of concerns. What is the priority?

There are many more battles than you can imagine. We have a lot of legal hassles on the go as well, huge tax mess-ups with Neymar, Messi, Mascherano, signing screw-ups like with Ney, the whole FIFA ban affecting our academy structure, UEFA fining us for people showing Catalan separatist flags at the stadium (an outrageous discrimination on their part and clearly unconstitutional), our iffy deal with Qatar, how we treat our other teams, including women's football and other sports (Barça is one of the top clubs in European basketball, futsal and handball). Current facilities, plans to change things, and what the city says about how we can affect urban issues. Proper institutional image, like with the Spanish federation and beyond. So all I am saying is that this is just a small thing, and I know the answer they would give: the quality of the coaching at all licensed academies is good, Barça guaranteed, and the price is market competitive, that is that. Proof is the satisfaction of those signing up and the success of the endeavours.

Still, I don't like it, my opinion.

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On Friday, January 15, 2016 at 9:07 AM, Saviola7 said:

Anyone know about how this is going out west? I really hate how fractured developmental soccer is here. My son is a U12 who was invited (after a tryout) to join Sigma. I declined because I wasn't ready to spend the money on it. If this is a legitimate option, I have to choose between an OPDL, Sigma and this. Ugh.

How much do you have to pay for Sigma?  Can your  kid get in if he's talented but from a family that's  financially strapped??

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1 hour ago, BearcatSA said:

How much do you have to pay for Sigma?  Can your  kid get in if he's talented but from a family that's  financially strapped??

 

$1900 for Oct - April; not sure what happens in the summer (cf. rep soccer at this age goes for about $500 - $1000 for winter and $500 - $1000 for summer). I wasn't offered any assistance - it's possible that he was good enough to make the cut, but not outstanding enough to warrant a subsidy (I made it clear that money was the reason we declined the invitation). OPDL costs between $3K and $10K (!) a year, although the latter figure includes travel and all other fees.

I appreciate the input though on the Barcelona academy though. I suspected it was a money grab, but I wanted to be sure.

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6 hours ago, Saviola7 said:

 

$1900 for Oct - April; not sure what happens in the summer (cf. rep soccer at this age goes for about $500 - $1000 for winter and $500 - $1000 for summer). I wasn't offered any assistance - it's possible that he was good enough to make the cut, but not outstanding enough to warrant a subsidy (I made it clear that money was the reason we declined the invitation). OPDL costs between $3K and $10K (!) a year, although the latter figure includes travel and all other fees.

I appreciate the input though on the Barcelona academy though. I suspected it was a money grab, but I wanted to be sure.

I think the best thing is to ask the right questions, ask to watch them train, find out not only about practicing but playing, competition. I am not saying it is bad if you think the price is alright and like what you see.

A 12 year old who plays for fun on his own and trains with a good club can learn a lot, I would not count it out. I would not rule out him playing futsal if you can find the opportunity, he needs as much time on the ball as possible. The most important thing is to play a lot, constantly, and then be properly coached. 12 is still young enough you don't have to be obsessed about full competition.

By 13-14 I'd say, however, you should. The only real test of quality coaching is playing competitively against other properly coached teams, but the skills have to be acquired now.

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7 hours ago, Saviola7 said:

 

$1900 for Oct - April; not sure what happens in the summer (cf. rep soccer at this age goes for about $500 - $1000 for winter and $500 - $1000 for summer). I wasn't offered any assistance - it's possible that he was good enough to make the cut, but not outstanding enough to warrant a subsidy (I made it clear that money was the reason we declined the invitation). OPDL costs between $3K and $10K (!) a year, although the latter figure includes travel and all other fees.

I appreciate the input though on the Barcelona academy though. I suspected it was a money grab, but I wanted to be sure.

This is an interesting issue in Canada. Parents spend thousands upon thousands for sports like tennis, dance, gymnastics and yes, hockey.

But, for whatever reason, for some sports like soccer, many parents turn their nose up when the cost is anything more than a few hundred, because that's the way it has usually been in this country.

Now, many see hockey as a realistic way to the NHL or a scholarship (which it isn't for 98% of participants) so they think it's worth it. When clearly, the odds say otherwise.

In my opinion, in a pay to play system, we will have to accept that it costs money to run a quality program (and Sigma is the best in the country, IMHO). Now do I think OPDL or BCHPL is worth 6k a year? Hell no. But in the imperfect system we have, that, absent a professional league, will always rely on pay to play, people have to accept that for quality coaching and training (ie 4 days a week with UEFA licensed coaches), it costs money to do things correctly.

 

Edited by Soccerpro
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1 hour ago, Soccerpro said:

This is an interesting issue in Canada. Parents spend thousands upon thousands for sports like tennis, dance, gymnastics and yes, hockey.

Ridiculously too much money if the goal is for some sort of pro career or fully-paid-for post secondary education, imo.  For those parents whose children didn't come close to achieving those goals, I wonder how they feel now?

 

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12 hours ago, BearcatSA said:

Ridiculously too much money if the goal is for some sort of pro career or fully-paid-for post secondary education, imo.  For those parents whose children didn't come close to achieving those goals, I wonder how they feel now?

 

This is another reason to promote competitive leagues with promotion and relegation: the competition between teams to keep their teams at the top means they have to recruit, and part of the recruiting involves price incentives.

Basically, in most parts of the world, you cannot charge that much because there is always another club out there running their club to compete and letting anyone they really want to play for free or near to it. If a kid has a choice, and can't be paid, that is the way to attract him or her. 

I understand that workers doing a proper job should be paid properly, and I believe coaches here where I am on an amateur level make too little (a few hundred euro a month to train 3 days a week plus games weekends), but there has to be a bit of a balance. And there has to be some kind of social criteria as well, all clubs should be required to provide grants and funding to players whose families can prove via a simple means test their kid could not play non-school sport otherwise.

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16 hours ago, Unnamed Trialist said:

I think the best thing is to ask the right questions, ask to watch them train, find out not only about practicing but playing, competition. I am not saying it is bad if you think the price is alright and like what you see.

A 12 year old who plays for fun on his own and trains with a good club can learn a lot, I would not count it out. I would not rule out him playing futsal if you can find the opportunity, he needs as much time on the ball as possible. The most important thing is to play a lot, constantly, and then be properly coached. 12 is still young enough you don't have to be obsessed about full competition.

By 13-14 I'd say, however, you should. The only real test of quality coaching is playing competitively against other properly coached teams, but the skills have to be acquired now.

That's the rub in Canada though. There are 40-50 "pay-to-play" academies (i.e., 2 - 3 times the cost of rep soccer with a club) in the GTA alone. Each academy might have one or two good players and then a number of also-rans to fill out numbers (and fill up the coffers of the owner). They tend to play against each other and in tournaments, so it's really tough to say where they stack up. In principle the top 30 or so players in southern Ontario play at TFC academy, but after that it's quite the mess.

The OSA's response to all of this is to set up the OPDL in hopes to concentrate the talent into one league (U13+). They claim that their main scouting energies will be on OPDL teams. The problem is that they seem to have had difficulty getting buy-in from skeptical parents and the league costs are such that it isn't even a cheaper option than a number of academies. As a result some have questioned the quality of the competition in the first place.

Anyway for us, I've seen both Sigma's and the OPDL club in question's training and I'm more or less happy with the coaching (Sigma's more so). Next fall is when we have to decide (assuming those options are presented to him), so we'll see then. Until then, the indoor (Hershey) league is possibly one of the best competitions around given that it draws the best clubs from Peel, Halton, Western Toronto, and Western York.

 

Finally, I heard a coaching instructor suggest that futsal might not always be the best developmental option for kids. He didn't take exception to the ratios or out-of-bounds rules, he just felt that the heavy futsal ball doesn't punish you enough for having a bad first touch.

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14 minutes ago, Saviola7 said:

Finally, I heard a coaching instructor suggest that futsal might not always be the best developmental option for kids. He didn't take exception to the ratios or out-of-bounds rules, he just felt that the heavy futsal ball doesn't punish you enough for having a bad first touch.

Well he must think all the Brazilians and Portuguese and Spaniards have heavy feet and are clumsy, and those who don't play futsal, like in England or most of Northern Europe, are delicate on the ball and pure stylists. 

I agree, though, that the weight is heavy for that age: so you can play with a smaller ball than normal, though futsal weight is important. You absolutely have to have that weight, otherwise the ball is bouncing too much and out of control. The weight means you can step on the ball, means your movements are precise if you make them precisely, and your passes stick on other feet. All the precision passing is more precise too, as the unwanted bounces are eliminated. All of that is perfect for kids, saying otherwise is mishugina. I have never seen a kid with skills in futsal having a problem adjusting to basic skills on grass, does not happen.

When kids move to 7 a side on a grass or turf field, they adjust, no problem. They learn to do oriented controls as they have space, and can use space to run into. They don't have to pass as accurately as teammates have more time to receive, are not being pressured so often. They learn their chesting and heading, which many experts say should be cut back when younger anyways. Playing a size 4 ball though, proportional to their feet. 

In any case, for me, if kids take any damn ball and go on an outdoor court of any type, or indoor basketball court, and play 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 a side using any damn rules as long as there are sidelines (no bouncing off sides!!), they are going to learn. The most important details are: passing and controlling skills, dribbling, general foot speed, give and goes, and quick decision-making. If no adults are there harrassing them as they scrimmage for long chunks of time, like lunch hour at school, then better.

Edited by Unnamed Trialist
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There is this incredible documentary they did a couple years ago after Messi breaks Zarra's Liga scoring record, looking at the first team he played with at Barça, must have been a u-14 team. They have all of them meet Messi after the awards ceremony, just 12-13 years ago.

This is it in Catalan and Spanish: 

 

 

What is interesting is what happens to those kids, then and now, how things have changed. Of that group the star, an African with Spanish foster parents, Mendy, was a huge phenomenon, scoring goals, lots of press. When his father died back in Senegal he couldn't take it and gave up. Never made pro, coaches kids and plays in a small club in Murcia and boxes. Of the rest one is a baker, another has a shop, one is an electrician, there's a salesman, one works in the kitchen at a primary school. A kid talked about migranes, which only stopped when he left Barça aged 16. Almost all from local families with supportive parents. 

Of all those 15 kids there is one, I think, playing fourth tier, and the keeper Isaac Becerra, who is at Girona in Spanish 2nd division and is a great professional. So really two and half pro players out of 15 on a Barça u-14 roster: the best player in the world, a solid pro, and a semi-pro. And the rest with their memories of playing alongside Messi when they were kids.

Edited by Unnamed Trialist
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  • 4 weeks later...

Not too take anything from you Jeffrey, but Messi came from Newell Old Boys academy until the age of 12-13 I believe before he joined Barca's academy.  He was already a phenom in Argentina at that age, but Newells couldn't pay for Messi's growth hormone treatments, as you well know, he was diagnosed with a mild dwarfism, and Barca's paid full treatment, if Messi was with them.  Newell's Old Boyd have one of thr best academies in Argentina, and I'd say could rival La Masia or La Fabrica.  I don't trust most of Canadian academies here as from what I've seen, not much emphasis is placed on technique, precision and playing futsal.  Thought by now Canada would embrace abit more flair in the game.  The Caps academy seems to have implemented more things to the kids.

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