Have Your Say #1 - Shortpasses

The transfer window is now open and the next two weeks should be very active at 7000 S. Harlem.  The MLS combine takes place from January 8-11 in Florida ahead of the SuperDraft on the 13th in Baltimore and the Fire need to begin filling the open spots on the roster now, but before any of that discussion kicks off I want to introduce the first new feature of 2011 - "Have Your Say". 

"Have Your Say" will give Fire Confidential readers the chance to sound off on soccer issues that are sticking in your craw or just plain annoying you to no end.  The first one sets the bar pretty high.  "Shortpasses" goes into some detail on US Soccer's decision making process for retaining Bob Bradley.  Here it is.......................


Just When you thought Everyone had Forgotten Klinsmann!!

by Shortpasses

When we last looked at this soap opera, Jurgen Klinsmann was back watching the waves; Bob Bradley was thanking his lucky stars that he had a job; and Sunil Gulati (US Soccer President) and Dan Flynn (US Soccer CEO and Secretary General) were avoiding the issue by "concentrating" on the 2022 World Cup bid. (How did that go?)   US fans were divided between those who hated Bradley and blamed him for among other things, world poverty and those who were satisfied and willing to give him another chance. 

With the benefit of several months for everyone to cool down, myself included, I decided to try to identify for my own satisfaction the causes of Klinsmann's rejection.  I started by trying to piece together a time-line of events following the World Cup.  This was ultimately rather frustrating since any early discussions went unreported. I finally settled on the following critical events: (1) US Soccer Board Meeting on August 10; (2) Meeting between Gulati and Klinsmann on August 27 or 28: (3) Announcement of Bradley's contract renewal on August 30.

My initial effort was to check out the US Soccer Board of Directors Meeting Minutes for August 10. Nothing there.  However, the Board did go into Executive Session that day and those minutes are not publicly available.  Given the fact that Gulati needed Board approval for the hiring, I believe he must have received his "marching orders" here.  Less than 3 weeks later, August 27 or 28, Gulati and Klinsmann met, according to a report on ESPN.com.  And then with no further explanation on August 30, Bradley's contract renewal was announced.  Despite the hope it initially engendered, I believe that the 27/28 meeting was just the final nail in the negotiating coffin.  Gulati couldn't give in and Klinsmann wouldn't.  

Blame for the rejection of Klinsmann has pretty much been laid at the door of Gulati, with some mud thrown at Flynn and a little saved for the big money players from MLS.  I have never felt totally comfortable with these explanations particularly regarding Gulati.  Why did he reopen this can of worms?  He obviously is not a strong leader but he also isn't stupid.  He must have believed that Klinsmann would back down, this time or, more likely, he felt that the Board of Directors would acquiesce to Klinsmann's terms, this time.  Because I find it very hard to believe that Gulati thought that Klinsmann would back off, I am left with the conclusion that Gulati totally misjudged his Board.  I am convinced that the Executive Session of the August 10 Board Meeting drew the line in the sand that ultimately Klinsmann would not cross and Gulati couldn't undraw..

The Board vote was critical since Gulati, as President, is quite limited in his individual authority.  According to the US Soccer By-Laws:

Section 1. The President of the Federation shall have the following responsibilities:
(a) preside at all meetings of the National Council and the Board of Directors, and
serve as Chairperson of the Board;
(b) appoint all committees as provided by Bylaw 431 and serve as an ex officio
member of those committees;
(c) provide an annual report 30 days prior to the annual general meeting of the
National Council; and
(d) to be or to delegate someone to be the official representative of the Federation in
FIFA, CONCACAF, and other international organizations.

As Board Chairman, Gulati has the ability to sway his Board Members but only to the extent that his own political skills allow.  Other than that he is just another voting member of the Board and shares in their authority as defined by the By-Laws:

Section 1. The Federation shall have a Board of Directors. Except as otherwise
specifically provided by these bylaws, the Board of Directors shall have all governance,
supervising, and administrative authority of the Federation as provided.

If we assume that Klinsmann was telling the truth about having a verbal agreement with Gulati, then it would appear that Gulati was over-ruled by his Board at the August 10 meeting.  Given the importance of the Board vote, it is surprising that more attention has not been paid to the individual members of that Board.  See the Board Composition below:

Section 1. The Board of Directors consists of the following Directors, with each Director
having one vote except as otherwise provided:
(1) the President.
(2) the Vice President.
(3) the Immediate Past President (non-voting).
(4) two out of the 8 Commissioners of the Adult Council elected for a 2-year term
expiring at annual general meetings of the National Council.
(5) two out of the 8 Commissioners of the Youth Council elected for a 2-year term
expiring at annual general meetings of the National Council.
(6) two out of the 8 Commissioners of the Professional Council elected for a 2-year
term expiring at annual general meetings of the National Council.
(7) Athletes, which shall be at least 20 percent of the total number of voting Directors
of the Board, rounded up to the next whole number (currently 3), elected as
provided by Bylaw 322.
(8) two independent directors elected by the National Council in odd-numbered
years, beginning in 2007, for 2-year terms each, expiring at annual general
meetings of the National Council.
(9) one independent director elected by the National Council in even-numbered
years, beginning in 2008, for a 2-year term expiring at annual general meetings of
the National Council.
(10) one "at large" representative elected by the procedures set forth in section 3
below, for a 2-year term expiring at annual general meetings of the National
(11) the Secretary General (non-voting).

Based on the above, there are 15 votes available, (Attendance at the August 10 meeting showed 14 voting members).  Eight (8) votes would have been needed to reject giving Klinsmann the authority he wanted.  Here are those Board members who were indeed responsible for this decision:

Sunil Gulati - President (1 vote)
Mike Edwards - Executive Vice President (1)
Jeff Agoos, Danielle Fotopoulos, Jon McCullough - Athlete Representatives (3)
Don Garber, Tonya Antonucci - Professional Council Representatives (2)
Richard Goff, Jim Hamilton - Adult Council Representatives (2)
Bob Palmiero, John Sutter - Youth Council Representatives (2)
Francisco Marcos - At Large Representative (1)
Carlos Cordiero, Fabian Nunez - Independent Directors (2)

Donna Shalala - Independent Director (Absent)

My personal conclusions:

  • Blaming Gulati alone is probably overdone.  Can we believe that Klinsmann had a verbal agreement with Gulati?.  Probably.  There is no doubt that Gulati did initiate discussions with Klinsmann for a second time, knowing full well what Klinsmann's sticking point was before.  Unless Gulati likes hitting his head against a brick wall, he had to believe that this time he could get the votes from his Board.  He obviously misjudged his Board.
  • Blaming the MLS owners is also in my opinion overdone.  Regarding their involvement two things should be considered.  (1) On paper they have only two assured votes on the Board  (2) Money and prestige wield a lot of influence.  However, if the MLS owners chose to use that influence the question is why? What's in it for them?  From a monetary standpoint, how does MLS lose if Klinsmann succeeds?  Klinsmann  states that his intention would be to revamp US player development and bring an improved style of attacking play to the USMNT.  How does that hurt MLS pocketbooks?  Besides, MLS would ultimately bathe in the shared sunshine of a successful USMNT.  The often touted reason for MLS opposition has been Klinsmann's desire for unrestricted access to players.  But this is a common complaint heard around the world, Why reject a perfectly qualified coach for something that any coach of a MNT' would ask for?
  • The one group that easily had the votes to reject Klinsmann's request for full authority and has received little if any publicity is what I will call the "Insiders".  They start with a base of four votes. (Adult Council-2 and Youth Council-2).  To this, add the Athletes' representatives, currently 3 votes. The final members of the Insider's block come from the so-called  Independent Directors, all elected by the National Council, currently 3 votes.  It's quite easy to see where the votes could come from but the real question is why?  The answer is simple!  Jobs, money, and pride.  Literally thousands of people within US Soccer derive all or a portion of their livelihood from using and disseminating the current US Soccer coaching philosophy. They are "certified soccer experts" They range from coaches directly employed by US Soccer to those running soccer camps while proudly displaying their A, B, and C, licenses.  What happens if Klinsmann not only cleans house on the internal US Soccer coaching staff but also changes the current development program and with one stroke makes all of their expertise, outdated. Also, for the Athletes' representatives, it would be a slap in the face.  Their skills and accomplishments were being downgraded by this "foreigner". Truly a bitter pill for all that just couldn't be allowed to happen.  I won't even bother discussing the possibility of pure outright xenophobic motives

The Insiders, with the possible help of Mr. Flynn, definitely get my vote as the villains

Unfortunately, my conclusion that the rejection of Klinsmann was a US Soccer grass-roots effort paints a truly dismal picture for player development in the US, a continuation of the physical, helter-skelter play that has marked us as a perpetual second tier country (intermittent round of 16 appearances notwithstanding).  The only possible ray of light is the enhancement and expansion of MLS youth development programs (like the Chicago Fire's program) and the appearance of European training facilities, like Arsenal's proposed east coast facility.

Maybe, just maybe, the rejection of Klinsmann will be looked back on 20 years from now as a watershed, the beginning of the end of US Soccer's stifling dominance over the sport in the US.  

For an outstanding description of the internal structure of US Soccer as it applies to this situation, check out this link:   http://www.yanksarecoming.com/how-the-us-soccer-federation-structure-enabled-the-bradley-gulati-klinsmann-soap-opera-part-ii


Shortpasses has knocked it out of the park with the initial Have Your Say post.  If you're interested in writing something for a future Have Your Say topic just let me know via email fireconfidential@aol.com or via twitter @fireconf. 


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  • Isn't this move by FIFA akin to an alcoholic conducting his own intervention........


  • In reply to cesba:


  • Daily Herald's Orrin Schwarz looks at the offseason.....


  • wow, GR, great start to the new year! that's one epic post, and you bring up some excellent points. I always found it odd that Sunil would have even had talks (that the public knew about) with JK if there wasn't some sort of agreement between the 2... and then he ends up not being hired.

    However, I did not know deep the board was, and how such decisions were made. Gulati is certainly not a very impressive leader, but I think you're right in that this decision can't be put solely on his shoulders.

    Although I find fault with MANY decisions Bob made in the last cycle, and of course the few oddities in the actual Cup, it can be pretty well argued that he earned his re-hiring. I'm usually against Int'l coaches being around for 2 cycles in principle, but he has been, overall, the most successful coach in a long time. Does that have more to do with him or perhaps our players, individually, are getting better? Hard to say.

    This is a broad and good topic to start with, GR, i look forward to hearing others' responses.

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    It's an excellent post from Fire Confidential reader and commentor Jim Froehlich (aka shortpasses). Well researched and well written.

  • In reply to cesba:

    ah, of course I completely misread the last paragraph of your intro. Great stuff, still.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Are you going to have a blog post called "Back Passes"? That would be a very Fire specific "Have Your Say".


  • In reply to fireman451:

    That would be the title of any post featuring Logan Pause.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Ohhh Snaps! Point GR!!! Good one!!

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    The signs are bad. This rebuild has been on the cards for a year and yet no players have been signed, even coaches have yet to be replaced. The Fire have the most needs yet the least movement amongst MLS teams. Giving up Busch and the fullback to SJ, whose name escapes me at the moment, indicate that DLC's judgement on talent may be suspect, see Umanzor and others. Dallas, RSL, LA, All revamped their lineup in one season, yet we are on our second season with no movement. I read about various south American players signing for Columbus and others and not a word about the Fire. there is no margin for error in this retool and we need our bigger signings to all be successful, no gambles like John or Castillo. we need quality up the middle, a CB, attacking mid and striker for openers.

  • In reply to Celt:

    with FL signing with celtic, and the loss of thor and lowry in the expansion draft, the fire are woefully weak in central mid. the fire were already weak at striker last year, and with mcbride retiring & john leaving are even weaker. and condes departure and browns retirement have left a huge gaping hole at center back.

    i'm not nearly concerned about the fullbacks (tho i still think kinney is not quite as good as the average MLS fullback), or wingers... we have plenty of, and in goal the fire definately are in good shape.

    #1 priority is a good centre back
    #2 a quality striker

    then after that, a second center back and a decent center mid are desirable. if they can get a playmaker, great, but right now center back and striker are the biggest needs.

    ps - fullback whose name escaped you was tim ward

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    Ward has proven to be a serviceable MLS fullback, good enough to be protected by a better team than the Fire. DLC's ability to judge talent is suspect. he wanted rid of Krol before the season started and never changed his mind despite Krol being also MLS standard, even if not great. His belief in Carr even to the point of protecting him at the expense of better or equal players with a lower salary, Lowery, doesn't instill confidence. This rebuild should have been underway last season but now it seems we are just starting and very slowly at that. I notice RSL have an under 20 el salvadorian striker on trial and are looking for depth only. Where are the Fire prospects? I have no faith in the competence of the front office and hope to be wrong, but doubt it.

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    I think Bob Bradley is a coach that is going to get his players to work hard and be very good defensively. He is going to cheer them on to hold onto a result that they might have lucked into. He is ultra conservative in his tactics and it feels like, to me, he was going to play a 4-5-1 no matter what this World Cup because that was the best way to not get scored on. Even if the game is begging for a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3. IMO, his thinking is "if we don't get scored on, we don't lose." He reminds me of our situation with Denis Hamlett. Sure we went to the Conference Finals with The Menace but we were never going to win the Cup with him. That is as far as he would have taken us. Bradley is never going to get us to a semi final in the World Cup. With Klinsmann as our coach, that would be possible. Klinsmann doesn't come off as predictable and that he would be willing to switch up tactics if he sees something that would give us an advantage. I think it was a big mistake not signing him and keeping the same, vanilla, Bob Bradley.

  • Indeed. not to mention a 451 is a 433 when it suits. these formations are not set in Cement. I like Bradley as coach and much as I liked Klinsman as a player I don't get the whole guru thing. What is that based on, except taking a German team to the semi finals, not exactly a shock in any world cup. It will be interesting to see what happens with Toronto.

  • In reply to Celt:

    The guru has already had the star player venture off into Scotland for a trial right under his nose.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Under his nose? Klinsmann was hired to be a consultant for TFC, not to monitor the off-season shenanigans of the players. His job is to offer suggestions on how to improve the structure of the organization and recommend people to take on certain roles, like head coach.

  • In reply to ggorecki:

    Right...so they hired a consultant to oversee and evaluate the entire organization from top to bottom and the consultant failed to reach out to the club's most important and notoriously unhappy player in the two months since being hired.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Klinsmann's job was to tell TFC's organization what they were doing wrong. A big job, considering how Mo Johnston messed up at nearly every turn. I'm not sure what part of Klinsmann's job was player personnel issues. Perhaps you know more about Klinsmann's duties than was reported in the media than I do.

    And even if he was expected to baby-sit players in the off-season, that would be a lost cause in the case of DeRosario. I would say that he doesn't want to be in Toronto anyway, given his foolish on-field antics regarding his wages.

  • In reply to ggorecki:

    Look at it this way, if you're a consultant hired on to evaluate the entire organization, hire a new GM and coach, and find out what went wrong....wouldn't one of the questions you asked in the first two months be, "What is going on with your best player?".

    If some of the national soccer bloggers want to look at a "wacky" mess of an organization they should look no further than Toronto.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Klinsmann may well have asked that question regarding DeRosario, but it

  • In reply to ggorecki:

    If I'm not mistaken, American players count as a foreign player on their roster. That would mean they need all the Canadian players they can find. DeRosario is the best Canadian player out there so getting rid of him would not be a very good move for them.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Sometimes it's a matter of whether a player is more trouble than he's worth. Any player who mocks his club by signing a check as a way of simultaneously celebrating a goal and complaining about his compensation would be out the door if I were running the club. You could get a lot for DeRosario if you traded him.

    I think that MLS gave TFC flexibility regarding how many Americans count as foreigners on their roster. When they first joined the league, the rule was strictly interpreted. But Johnston whined about it and MLS budged a little. I don't know how the current rule reads. With Vancouver joining the league and Montreal soon to follow, they have to make some adjustments because there aren't enough good Canadians to fill all of these new roster spots.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Here's another player that the Fire are rumored to be interested in.......


    Mikael Antoine-Curier is a big target who is well traveled to say the least.....


  • In reply to cesba:

    Chicago has got to be more attractive than a non old firm SPL team, doesn't it?

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    Deuchar Played for RSL straight from SPL; he was a bust and is now back in SPL. I doubt a Hamilton Academical player is the answer for our striker woes, except as depth. Outside of the Old Firm the SPL is No better than MLS.

  • In reply to Celt:

    yeah, and IMO old firm SPL is only marginally better than top MLS teams

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    He Guys!
    Let's focus on the Chicago Fire and not on the competion Toronto F.C. I am very concerned about what kind of players Klopas and
    De los Cobos will aquire for our 2011 Squad. Their selection for 2010 for the most part was a disaster. The way we ended in 2010
    under Klopas and De los Cobos doesn't make make too excited about
    the 2011 season. At this point I don't think Frank and Carlos are
    the answer for a successful Chicago Fire Team.
    I wish Klinsmann was helping The Fire instead of Toronto. He was a Great Striker and Coach for The German National team in his day.

  • In reply to TigerJMS:

    Your better off going to McDonalds and ordering a Happy Meal and see what toy you got than trying to stress out on what Twiddle Dum and Twiddle Dee are going to come up with. Like I said before, they travel all over Europe to "scout" some players and they came back empty handed,, hmm? I think they should audit their expense report because it seems they went on a European Vacation at the expense of the Club.

  • In reply to Janjo:

    Excluding the Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum reference I would agree that the Eastern European area has been "fished out". Why are we ignoring South America, specifically, Chile, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Columbia?? If we don't have the contacts in these areas then we need to develop them. The Bolivian youth development school, Tahuichi, is famous for its program--where are these kids playing???

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    good point - to players in some South American countries, and many African countries, the US has got to be a very attractive location to play in, even for modest pay, the standard of living here adds quite a bit of value.

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    I believe a question like this was asked in another chat i think of Grant Wahl and they said that Argentina and Brazil snatches up most the talent when they are like 17.. Just like we don't seem to get the pick of the litter of columbians in the MLS, but it seems it is getting more spotlight .. Plus i think some of them while better maybe technically can't hack the physicality, just look at umanzor or martinez.. or Gallardo and the others DC United has tried in the past few years..

  • In reply to Janjo:

    DerSting...exactly pretty sad of all the busts we have brought over to revive their career, but with the low salary cap, it's very hard to bring a good quality player here who still has some gas in the tank! Much better to go South of the border or Africa or somewhere else where else! Looks at New England and how they brought over those young African players so they didn't fall flat on their faces a few years ago with all their injuries!
    Gosh even if we aren't very good we at least want effort for crying out loud! Also for our team to care about each other and look out if the other team takes cheap shots on a player and stand up for them and get in their face! Bring back some passion to Fire Red!!!

  • In reply to TigerJMS:

    There is talk about Toronto and others as there is actually something happening with them. It has been remarkably quiet with the Home Team. Nothing, zilch, nada. We can Talk about the Draft but I can See the brain trust reaching for some obscure player who will be in charge of keeping the pine bench warm while he develops into the player that fits into DLC's mysterious flowing system.(Has this system ever been explained at all? Maybe that can be a post, what exactly is his system?) We can talk about the latest bargain player who will be brought to Toyota Park to revive his faltering career so they can return to Europe for a better pay check if, and I do mean if they can rediscover their form.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Great Post Short Passes!!
    Now I have to take an Advil for this headache you brought on to me :P
    Sometimes we hate to know the truth and this is one of them.
    I strongly believe that we will never thrive if the reigns of the MLS hold our teams destiny by directly owning the players, disallowing free agency and this stupid $14,000 salaries for players.
    For being Americans we are hypocrites the way our clubs are controlled, let the free markets run free!!

  • In reply to Janjo:

    They're moving in the right direction with some of your issues Janjo. The new collective bargaining agreement has increased the minimum player salary to $40,000.

    Full free agency will have to wait....for quite some time I think.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Sorry GR but I have to agree with StaryByk3 on this one. When I hired consultants to do a study of my operations I didn't expect nor want them to be telling me how to handle day to day issues. They were there to observe, interview, and analyze my operation and then submit a report on their findings.

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    You guys have a point, but I've dealt with consultants as well. I wasn't expecting them to tell me how to run the operation either but I do expect some input or suggestions while the "observation" is ongoing - not after. Running a professional sports franchise is a bit of a different animal since your most important commodity are your players and they are essentially independent contractors signed to specific contract terms and not necessarily employees.

    Knowing that there is an issue between DeRosario and management how does a consultant not interview both parties to find out what the problem is with your most important commodity. Especially since said consultant is in charge of finding a coach and general manager who will have to rely on the cooperation of the team's best player.

    If I'm a coach interviewing for the TFC head coaching position it would be nice to know that the probable linchpin of my team isn't off in Scotland trying to train his way out of Canada.

    StaryByk3, is probably right on not blaming Klinsmann for the current mess with DeRosario but he's not clean either as far as I'm concerned.

    If I'm paying a consulant big money to analyze my operation you'd better believe that I'm asking everybody how something like this mess could occur. TFC currently has an acting GM - did the consultant not discuss anything with the acting GM? It appears the new hires (Winter and Mariner) will soon be in place - how do you hire a new coach and GM without some assurance or knowledge of who will be on the roster?

    Klinsmann has to have asked these questions during his search. If he did then he is just as responsible as Earl Cochrane and DeRosario for not addressing the issue. If he didn't ask these questions then he did a poor job of analyzing the current situation as a consultant.

  • In reply to cesba:

    As I noted earlier, Klinsmann may well have asked the questions you have noted. But the bottom line is that dealing with a player who may have breached his contract lies with TFC's management, not with Klinsmann.

  • In reply to cesba:

    MLS has announced the rosters and schedule for the Combine this weekend.


    MLSsoccer.com will also be streaming games live online.

  • In reply to cesba:

    live streaming is a nice touch, I don't remember that in the past. It will be fun to watch, but gotta remember that they can also be a very poor indication of a player's skills and talents (for both good and bad reasons).

    I can just imagine people getting up in arms about a few missed passes or some weak flow from a side that's never played together before.

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    This is the first time they have broadcast the games in any fashion.

    That is a nice touch but if history is any indication the games have been fairly brutal in the past.

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    Here are some upcoming Section 8 events that you may be interested in.......

    Section 8 is hosting a virtual food drive

    Post Holiday Party at Small Bar Fullerton

    Annual General Meeting at Toyota Park

  • In reply to cesba:

    Perry Kitchen, Omar Salgado, Zak MacMath, and Zarek Valentine are participating in the US U-20 camp and won't be at the combine.

    Darlington Nagbe also won't be there.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Here is the full list for the teams in the MLS Combine: http://www.soccerbyives.net/soccer_by_ives/2011/01/full-rosters-announced-for-mls-combine.html

  • In reply to cesba:

    The Fire got a a lot of holes to fill. With their 9th pick, they are available William Bruin, AJ Soares, Anthony Apaitakawong, Ashley McInnes or Michael Boxall. However, if they select William Bruin, question who will pass him the ball that allows him to finish? Unless they will go 2 ways 1) Continue to develop Corben Bone 2) Get somebody outside the organization. If they draft AJ Soares, he is view as this years Tim Ream with his style of play will compete with Corey Gibbs at center back position to play next to Kwame Watson Siriboe.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    CDLC has never seemed to like Bone much...

  • In reply to ggorecki:

    Looks like Chivas USA is turning to RSL assitant Robin Fraser as the next Goats head coach after Juan Carlos Osorio took his name out of the running and decided to stay at Once Caldas.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Although I have nothing against Bradley, who is a fine coach, I think that Klinsmann would have been better for the overall development of U.S. soccer. certainly what he was asking for isn't unreasonable
    in the world of soccer. I think it was time for a change, but that chance has been lost.
    In part the problem with U.S. soccer is it's main player base comes from colleges, whereas in other countries the player development is different. Getting a college trained, untested midfielder, age 22 isn't quite the same as in other countries who have experienced starting players in the late teens or early 20's. We'll always are 3 or 4 years behind.

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