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Poll: Your non-MLS plans

When labor issues led to an NHL work stoppage five years ago, hockey fans had few alternatives to follow their favorite sport. If the NFL shuts down next year, where will football fans turn? In both cases, these leagues are the best in the world -- in the case of the NFL, one of few in the world -- and their absence leaves few, if any, viewing options.

As a truly global game, soccer is quite different. If you don't fancy the clubs and styles of the English Premier League, you can follow La Liga in Spain. If the German Bundesliga is on winter break, you can turn your attention to Serie A in Italy. Options are plentiful.

Which brings us to MLS. If the players go on strike, as they've been threatening to do if a new labor agreement isn't reached by the season openers in two weeks, American fans have the option of getting their footy fix elsewhere. Every weekend, from August through May, there are approximately 40 televised matches available live from all over Europe and Latin America (and even Australia). This year, the club seasons will lead into the World Cup, and before you know it, foreign leagues are re-starting again. Women's soccer is also an option, with an April-to-September WPS season.

[Update: I neglected to mention the new second division, which includes Crystal Palace Baltimore and many others. Too late to add to the poll. Apologies.]

So I ask you this:

By Steve Goff  |  March 11, 2010; 11:41 AM ET
Categories:  MLS , Poll  
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Next: MLS players prepared to strike

Comments

An avenue in this that I haven't really seen explored yet, somewhat surprisingly - the players' lawsuit against MLS was widely seen as a proxy for the NFL Players' Union challenge against their own league. Is there any indication that the MLSPA is carrying water for the NFLPU again on this in light of the possible work stoppage in the NFL next season? Testing the public's tolerance for a sports strike right now? Testing owners' resolve in a tough economy? Or no relation whatsoever?

Posted by: VercengetorixII | March 11, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Soccer on television is not the issue for me - I rarely watch MLS games on TV (except for a few DC United games here and there). What bothers me is the possibility of not going to games in person. The stadium experience is unique, even in the beloved shambles of RFK. Plus, I'm hoping to go to Philly for the April 10th game. Without a hometown team to watch live and in person, MLS would mean very little to me.

Posted by: Miles_Standish_Proud | March 11, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I enjoy the MLS games on tv, but with all the Euro games available on tv, I'll follow more of them. And with Atlanta-ish getting a WPS team, I'll probably follow much more of that this year.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | March 11, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Hey, let's not forget about March Madness and the weather improving! Might as well make a list of a billion things that people will get used to doing this Spring (potentially) without MLS.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 11, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

My DCU dollars will probably shift to attending more Nationals and Capitals games which I don't mind, but I really like going to RFK once the weather is warm.

Posted by: LostinPotomac | March 11, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

For live soccer in this country, how could you include WPS as an option and not USL/NASL division 2?

Posted by: mdamore | March 11, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe it...but more WPS for me. Because the Beat are playing 10 minutes from my house in a new stadium.

Posted by: Reignking | March 11, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

No DCU means more Nationals. I'm going to try and support Palace Baltimore but I"m not sure if they will be on TV or not.

Posted by: lgcarbonell | March 11, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I'll watch about the same in regards to Euro and Latino leagues. MLS fills a nice void in the sports seasons between the end and beginning of pointy football.

No MLS will also give me more chances to go check out the Rowdies here in Tampa.

Posted by: addick | March 11, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

VercengetorixII --

What on earth gives you the idea that MLS players are paving the way for a NFLPA strike? There is zero cooperation between those two unions. I'm sure a MLS player making $40K a year is thinking, "Hmmm, I may take a hit this year by going on strike, but if Alfred Haynesworth can make another million a year in annual salary, it will all be worth it."

Many of us already watch both European matches on TV and MLS matches. I suppose a MLS strike means I may watch a few more Euro matches here and there, but I doubt it will have much of an impact. I agree with the commentator who said that only MLS matches give you that in person feel.

Posted by: jofij | March 11, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm a more-than-casual soccer fan -- I'll make an effort to catch a match if it interests me, whether it be La Liga, any YA, or DCU. It is getting hard to get psyched up for this season, though, when 1) it may not happen and 2) I think DCU isn't good.

DCU, you are on notice. My hometown Union is accepting applications. Don't make me cheer for Fred.

Posted by: Reignking | March 11, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Question.
Are the two sides (MLS and Union) really only meeting a couple of days a week? It seems like they should be pulling all nighters to get this deal done. The whole thing seems rather casual. Maybe I am misinterpreting the negotiation process...?

Posted by: nico78 | March 11, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

What appears to be a lackluster United team, a crumbling RFK and now the threat of a labor stoppage has caused me to use the money that I usually pay out to United for season tickets for my family and I and use the money as part of closing costs on a summer home. Instead of driving 2 hours to RFK a couple times a month, I'll be driving 2 hours west to Western Md. No live matches for me this year unless I decide to go check out Harrisburg sometime this summer.

Posted by: CrippledKeeper | March 11, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I'd watch more Euro / Latin soccer, but I'd miss my live game fix and would make plans for trips to Richmond to see the Kickers, and maybe Baltimore for a CP game. Maybe one game each over the summer? Maybe two if timing worked out? Hell, I'd probably look for college and good HS games, too. Man am I a junkie.

Posted by: eadc | March 11, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Freedom and U8 soccer. See you at the Biergarten.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 11, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Atlanta4MLS | March 11, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

TV habits wouldn't change much, but that's secondary. It's all about bouncing the stands at RFK. That's why I prefer MLS to any other league -- it's local!

A strike would make me sad, but I'd never abandon the league or DCU. I'll be there when they take the pitch.

(Much different situation from MLB, where it was easy to blame the players for being greedy. Regardless of the details and a need for compromise, MLS players do deserve better and won't piss me off for leveraging the power of their union.)

Posted by: -rke- | March 11, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

TV watching wouldn't change much - in person sports dollars might be spread among Nationals (I know they are lousy, but it is a nice stadium)and Freedom - and I might make the time to finally attend a Real Maryland game - they still exist, right?

Posted by: assocfoot | March 11, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

With respect, hard to answer this poll. I will ATTEND hardly any soccer games (except in South Africa, of course). I suppose this would let me go to the send-off game against Turkey since I wouldn't have to worry about not getting back to see DCU v Chivas. I already watch a bunch of soccer and TV and I don't expect that to change.

Maybe I will go to more concerts, get more active in the DC Blues Society, etc.....

Posted by: DCUSince96 | March 11, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I-270, is that the U8 Biergarten, or the WPS Biergarten?

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | March 11, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Since MLS struggles to gain audience share as it is, a strike is rather short sighted. If I was an MLS owner, I'd fire the entire team if it striked and hire the graduating college seniors en masse - fledgling soccer is better than no soccer.

Posted by: cheapthrill | March 11, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Reignking | March 11, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I dont really watch much MLS other than DCU games so that will not really change. I too will miss going to games, and i hope i get money back for my season tickets. My wife will be livid once she finds out about the strike. I guess i won't tell her!
I will probably go to a few CP Baltimore games or a real MD game.

Posted by: jjfooty | March 11, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

What would happen to the MLS players? Would they be able to drop down and displace players at the NASL/USL teams?

Posted by: OWNTF | March 11, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

How come just watch the World Cup this summer isn't an option? (and I'd rather clean my toilet then watch WPS, ugh!)

Posted by: goaldigger | March 11, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

where's the option for watching the same amount of euro that I do now, and once MLS gets back up, watch that?

Posted by: nairbsod | March 11, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

probably more Nats games for me.

and sailing, if I still have money to throw away.

Posted by: CDRHoek | March 11, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

. . . and I wonder if you've ever done either, goaldigger . . .

Posted by: OWNTF | March 11, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Go to Wolf Trap more often. It always seems the good matches conflict with the great shows. Oooh. Now I wish we hadn't traded in our Sonny Landreth tickets for May 27th at the Birchmere.

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | March 11, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

instead of mediation maybe send in nekkid Rahm-bo to curse 'em and if that doesn't work, send in Massa to tickle them boys into submission . . . .

Posted by: OWNTF | March 11, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Most of the U8 I've seen requires a biergarten in my opinion.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | March 11, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

i agree. why no mention of a little thing called the world cup? i am pretty ignorant regarding the impasse at hand in mls. what i will say is that many of these players should thank god they are lucky enough to get paid to play. no matter how little. until mls relaxes its stranglehold on players wishing to go abroad and the technical skill improves, i don't see either side in this debate winning. i feel that the american - not mls - cosmology needs to be concentrated on getting more americans playing overseas. i believe this will do more for american soccer, and in turn mls, than paying poor talent more money. for the record, i am not a hater and love mls but i know the quality of what i see. viva barra brava!

Posted by: papple | March 11, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

@BRRRD -- I'm very disappointed in this year's Wolf Trap lineup. I'm going to have to find other outlets. I suppose I'll try to catch a couple of Palace and Real Maryland games. Mostly, I think I'll just have fewer excuses to skip the gym, so I should be in much better physical shape.

Posted by: fischy | March 11, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I think going to matches really is what football in america is about... I think all along if someone has a choice of EPL on one channel and MLS on another the person is going to choose the EPL.

MLS (and second division) are about getting people who are new to the sport or love the sport out to stadiums and share the experience of a football match together.

It should always be about making the matchday experience unforgettable. That will be what puts fans in the seats and where they have the advantage of being an attraction on a nice summer night.

Posted by: beerfriday | March 11, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Agreeing with others - I'm not sure what my habits would do if there were a work stoppage that was on the longer side.

I don't know if I would need something in place of MLS.

As it is, I have Premier League and Bundesliga in the morning and then it's MLS in the evening when the seasons overlap. There's usually such a queue of games on my TiVo that I'm rarely watching a live match anyway.

My answer to the poll is that I will be sad that people will throw in the towel on the league over this (though, I can't blame people, because strikes in any arena are TERRIBLE).

The league and the players are both right and wrong on a number of issues. If a strike for a week or two resolves all issues and actually creates a stronger MLS - then YAY!

If it wipes out a season - well, then at that point it will be the victim of its own demise, but I will lay the blame at the feet of the players at that point.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | March 11, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

What would happen to the MLS players? Would they be able to drop down and displace players at the NASL/USL teams?

Posted by: OWNTF | March 11, 2010 1:10 PM
---------------------------------------------------

They may be striking, but they're still under contract. No way they could play for another FIFA-recognized league.

As for nico's comment about all-night bargaining -- those are what you do when there's a deadline about to fall and there's actually movement, which offers a reason to continue negotiating. If one or both sides aren't moving from their proposals, all-nighters don't help. It's usually better that they they go back and conference amongst themselves to consider strategy changes.

Posted by: fischy | March 11, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

The first 4 all apply to me. I would definitely watch more foreign soccer on TV and check out the minor leagues. I already don't watch any MLS games on TV, except DCU road games.

I think watching the World Cup is not an option in the poll because everyone who reads this blog is going to watch the World Cup, whether MLS has a strike or not.

Posted by: Senor_Funk | March 11, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I agree with beerfriday. If we're talking about TV, MLS loses out to foreign leagues anyway. I bet the ratings reflect that for national games, especially when one factors in that the foreign games are on weekend mornings and early afternoons.

Locally, I watch DC United -- at RFK and on TV, but I watch Aston Villa on TV far more than I see other individual MLS teams. I'm much more familiar with EPL players than I am with MLS.

What I will miss terribly is the chance to go to United games.

Posted by: fischy | March 11, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

While I actively follow MLS and go to some games, if they strike, I won't even notice until after the World Cup final in July.

The World Cup is that big a deal to me.

MLS not being around literally won't even enter my mind.

Posted by: StanShmenge | March 11, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I totally forgot about Europa league using goal line refs until I started watching it just now. They look out of place, especially without a flag, but I still like the idea

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | March 11, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

For me personally, TV viewing won't change except for adding the World Cup. For in person, I guess I'll watch Crystal Palace Baltimore. Cue the Baltimore Bashing in 3...2...1...

Posted by: BmoreDave | March 11, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

No DC United dollars means more money for the girls at Camelot's.....

Posted by: CHICO13 | March 11, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

right on, chico13!

Posted by: papple | March 11, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I've been mentally preparing to be without MLS anyway since I am moving out of the country in a few months, but I was sure hoping to catch the first five home games. I will be mightily upset if those games don't happen. So...probably a single road trip to see the Freedom (Montgomery County is a long drive) will be all the pro soccer I get.

Posted by: troy6 | March 11, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

and TV-wise I don't see any difference. The MLS games are on at different times than the Euros, so I never had to choose between them anyway.

Posted by: troy6 | March 11, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Goff already offered his mea cuplas for not offering an option to vote for spending more time following our local second division club...

And we have 3rd division Real Maryland.

If one of the two parties involved with the negotiations decide to take actions which will interrupt the league, it will leave me bitter (I completely ignored the NHL for about 4 or 5 years and still haven't actually gone to a Caps game since (but now it's coz a Brutha can't get a ticket)).

I am a Palace Baltimore season ticket holder.

I can go see Real Maryland.

We have the Freedom and they have a reserve side which plays, as well.

Oh yeah. And there is that thing called the World Cup.

Even when that is over, and before it starts, I got options.

Unlike CHICO13, I won't be spending that ca$h at Camelot. I got barred a few years back after I claimed to be CHICO's half brother in order to try to get into the VIP area. One of the bouncers who knew CHICO really well, realized immediately that I was tryin' to get over. Things kinda went south from there...

Posted by: yankiboy | March 11, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

At the level of U8 soccer, even U6 soccer, at EVERY game I always see at least a bit of good soccer.

I remember watching a 7yo girl playing defense track down an incoming ball along the touchline and doing a 270 degree pivot to kick it back upfield, straight along the line without going out of play . . . where'd she come up with that?? It's a beautiful game.

Anyway I voted WPS.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | March 11, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

No MLS means more money in my bank account.

Posted by: TMHarper | March 11, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I occasionally watch the English Premier League and Bundelisga but it doesn't replace MLS in my heart. I am a passionate fan of sports and follow a favorite team in each (United, Orioles, Redskins, Capitals, and Wizards). If there is no MLS season then I'll likely watch more Orioles games once the Capitals win the Stanley Cup!

Posted by: blackandred777 | March 11, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Does Ryan Cordeiro still play for Maryland? That guy brought something to the table for DC United as I recall. Gros-like worker. Can't recall what happened though. Was he dis-Soehned? Hurt?

Posted by: OWNTF | March 11, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

@OWNTF,

My brother-in-law grew up playing with Mr. Cordeiro. From my understanding, it's likely that Mr. Cordeiro earned his way out of the dressing room. A hot-head and not receptive to criticism/coaching. Heard it was a miracle education and attitude wise that he got into UConn.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | March 11, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

"Biking Direction added to Google Maps"

Awesome, have you tried it?

Posted by: delantero | March 11, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

It does not matter if they strike. I will be in SA for the whole WC and get my fix there. I place to do about 17+ games. Go USA.

Posted by: cbroumand | March 11, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

How can you follow Euro leagues that are off all summer? The World Cup will help alleviate the pain, but man, I'll be ticked if they strike.

The MLS players battling for a Cup spot should be even more ticked. Not good for club and certainly not good for country.

Posted by: delantero | March 11, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

For me, I'll catch a Red Stars game or two in Chicago, and attend a lot more games of my local PDL team (Michigan Bucks). Unfortunately no D2 teams in driving distance from Detroit, maybe an overnighter in St Louis.

Posted by: DetroitTFC | March 11, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Well, Crystal Palace Baltimore will be getting more of my attention... but that's not an answer in the poll.

Posted by: Modibo | March 11, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I can vouch for Real Maryland. Not many Fans at the matches but the play is not bad at all.

Most of the play is pretty fast and Games against Harrisburg and Bermuda last year were close and made for an exciting finish which included the Bermuda coach getting tossed and another player in Handcuffs.

Posted by: godpere | March 11, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

MLS not being around literally won't even enter my mind.

Posted by: StanShmenge | March 11, 2010 1:36 PM

Really, when a bunch of guys in the US World Cup squad could miss out on some league matches when they need to stay sharp before joining US camp??

Posted by: Kev29 | March 11, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

more baseball for me and definitely WPS. also the J-League and K-League if FSC were to be showing them, and the Mexican league with the 12 different channels that seems to be on.

but i still have a hard time believing the owners/players would go through with this with the new stadiums in NY and Philly coming online and with the way it would hurt the players with a chance at the WC. could Donovan even stay at Everton if there were to be a strike? seems like the answer would be no.

though now that i'm thinking about it, maybe the players are banking on the fact that there will be so much else to focus on in the run-up to the WC that the owners will blink since not many people will really be missing MLS during that time and the owners stand to take a bigger hit (i don't know if this is true - just postulating). if they can get the owners to cave during that time, then MLS can be primed to take the spotlight once the WC is over in July.

i also like the "doing this as a proxy for the NFLPA" quasi-conspiracy theory.

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | March 11, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I'll watch more Orioles and Capitals on the tube. I'll attend some Charm City FC and Chesapeake Charge games as well.

Posted by: Gambrills4 | March 11, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

My newly found money will go to Signature, Wooley Mamouth, Nationals, and Capitals.

Posted by: mbyrd28 | March 11, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Choice 6: Focus more on the Freedom, Caps, Mystics and Nats.

Posted by: stwasm | March 11, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

dimesmakedollars,
you can count on donovan staying at everton if there is a strike. that's already been pretty much confirmed. for his sake i hope they do strike.

Posted by: papple | March 11, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I'll spend most of my time rocking the red until the Caps sip from Lord Stanley's Cup then I'll turn my full attention to dem O's hon. I might go to a few lower level games.

Posted by: croftonpost | March 11, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Maybe go to some Freedom matches maybe visit some in laws and check out some Kickers matches, but more than likely I'll just be using Google bike maps to ride to different places to ride my skateboard...The Spring Classics on VS will be plenty entertaining as well.

@Reignking and delantero, that new map feature looks awesome. One stop shopping instead of fumbling between different dead tree copies of county maps. The on street suggested routes will be especially helpful.

Posted by: DadRyan | March 11, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

The Caps and World Cup will get me through to summer. After that, it would be CP Baltimore, I suppose.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | March 11, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Has DC United addressed the season ticket issue in the event of a strike? Anybody heard anything?

Posted by: croftonpost | March 11, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Back in the mid-90s this longtime baseball fan turned on his sport, angry about the strike and lost season (1994) it engendered. When MLS came along in 1996 I was ripe for the picking, looking for a new summer sports diversion. And so it was that DC United became my new boys of summer. I've been a planholder since.

Over the years, I've come to forgive baseball and I've long since rediscovered the passion for my beloved Phillies. But I've remained loyal to United too. Not only that, my exposure to MLS led me to start following the game overseas and I've since become a fan of Celtic, Real Madrid and Aston Villa. I've been to Celtic park for a league match, to the cauldron of Azteca, and to Germany for the World Cup.

The news of impending strike leaves me with a sad feeling of things coming full circle. Soccer as a sport is with me to stay but the inferior product offered by MLS was already starting to irritate me. If this goes on too long, I will probably find myself attending a lot more baseball while saving up my pennies for a trip across the pond to maybe Villa Park or the Bernabeu, and of course Brazil in 2014.

Posted by: cmjhawk86 | March 11, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

cmjhawk86, you and I found the game exactly the same way and feel about the same now. Remarkable.

Posted by: mbyrd28 | March 11, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

No baseball for me. I would miss going to DC United games and tailgating beforehand but there are many other diversions from rec league soccer to March Madness and the World Cup this summer.

I doubt we're in for a long-term strike but if we are I'll manage.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | March 11, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

I'll probably get my fill from European soccer, but will miss going to the live games. Whether I'll return to the league after a strike depends on how they handle my season ticket order.

Posted by: Mongoose714 | March 11, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

I will be one mad soccer fan if MLS goes on strike. To tell you the truth I am in favor of MLS making some major concessions to players, though it must be done in such a way that the league isn't thrown back into the sea of red ink again. It's been a real shame for years that guys that are good enough to fill out a team in the top US soccer league are paid wages comparable to that of a starting bag boy at the grocery store. Something is wrong with that picture!

Posted by: mccheese0 | March 12, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse

More MLBtv and the Red Sox. The runup for the world cup starts in a couple months. If MLS is off the radar through the end of the WC, no one is going to really care. Boy, not the best planning on the part of the players.

Posted by: hacksaw | March 12, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I just don't see a strike happening, or if it does, not for very long at all. Both sides have way too much at stake. I cheer loudly for DC United from abroad, but don't get to matches very often. A strike would not change that, though time watching streamed matches would instead be spent working on my tennis game.

Posted by: bartapest1 | March 14, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Goff, DC United's attendance took a real hit last year. Do you have any idea how the club has been doing with season ticket sales, and what the expectations are for the turn-out at RFK assuming we actually have a season? Philly's management expects regular sell-outs, and the New Jersey Pink Cows can only draw many more this year to their new state-of-the-art facility.

Posted by: bartapest1 | March 14, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Too sad. I'm guessing the irreparable harm this strike will do to players who would be second or third division in Europe, except for a few, like Donovan and the rest of the Men's National Team. I believe in an equitable wage and $50k per would be an equitable starting rate. That said, I will be attending USL this summer although Cleveland were relegated, I will attend half a dozen. I will also be attending minor league baseball because MLB does not exist for me since the last strike. Looks like MLS will suffer the same fate, but may not survive. Maybe USL will take them in.

Posted by: decdos | March 15, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

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