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Soccer Improvements

Spice up the game for American crowds
  (+14, -19)(+14, -19)
(+14, -19)
  [vote for,

I, like many Americans, have never been a big soccer fan. But obviously the rest of world has worked themselves in to a tizzy over the sport. In order for soccer to make it in America, I believe that one or all of the following improvements need to be made.

1) Introduce a 'multiball' period into every game. This period would start at a random point in the game and last 5 minutes. During the multiball period, two additional balls would be added to the playing field. This would not only add to scoring, but it would give commentators and endless supply of coaching strategies over which to ponder in the broadcast booth.

2) Periodically, replace the regular soccer ball with a 'wobbly' ball. Inside the wobbly ball is a weight that is affixed slightly off-center. Because of this weight, the ball will not roll in a straight line. This will make otherwise graceful athletes look like little kids as they haplessly chase the ball all over the field.

3) Two words: Trap Doors. There's just too much predictable running around in the game of soccer. The addition of randomly placed trap doors introduces an entire new element to the game. Picture this: one guy is being closely guarded by the opposing defender, when out of nowhere a trap door opens up and swallows him into the bowels of the field. This gives the ball handler a break-away and a chance for a score. Trap doors could also be a welcome addition to football games.

jraker, Sep 01 2000

Melee: The Game of Kings http://www.halfbake...Kings#967909421-2-1
A MUCH more interesting game. [StarChaser, Sep 01 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Multi-ball sports http://www.halfbake...a/3_20team_20hockey
Another HB idea along similar lines. [beauxeault, Sep 01 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]

The Beautiful Game http://www.nzherald...ction=international
Played succesfully by Englishmen with a reasonable points tally [gnomethang, Oct 04 2004]


       I, like at least some Americans, have loved soccer for a long time. One needs only to have seen the play of the most recent French World Cup team to understand why it is called "the beautiful game," or the play of the U.S. women's team to understand that "you kick like a girl" now has an entirely different meaning.   

       But I do understand that many Americans are bored by the low scoring frequency. So I will sink to the low level of suggesting this as another means of producing an interesting game:   

       Play soccer in a forest.
beauxeault, Sep 01 2000

       I, like at least some Americans, find the whole idea of 'Chase an inflated pig scrotum around a lawn' boring, and would want to introduce something like Mrkillboy's 'Melee: The game of Kings' into it...this would be the only way it'd interest me at all...
StarChaser, Sep 02 2000

       Many americans seem to have difficulty appreciating soccer (the way soccer actually is played, without all of these spurious 'improvements'). Instead of changing the rules of the game, can't we just change/abolish/replace americans instead?
vincebowdren, Sep 07 2000

       Sadly, too many people think that sport is something that you watch on TV. I suggest that you go and see a game live. You'll pretty soon be sharing the joy and the anger, the heartache and the despair that is the common lot of all sports fans. The real thing doesn't require some old has been to commentate and definitely doesn't need extra complications (my team can't cope with the rules as they are).
DrBob, Sep 07 2000

       vince, for shame. And disrupt our vicarious existence by actually doing something? Particularly if it does not pander to our jaded appetites - it would rock the very foundations of our economic and social structure. Besides, we like everything big, soccer players are too ordinary looking - we prefer specimens and freaks of nature. Further, soccer has a flat too flat a management structure, no heroic archtypical figure. We're uncomfortable with equality, it seems unnatural to us.   

       Virtual Soccer played by Sumo wrestlers with stun guns now...
Scott_D, Sep 07 2000

       A fantastic idea - I have some minor constructive improvements in addition : Not only use an off-centred Ball but have the ball explode at some random point during the game. Have the odd half dozen anti-personnel mines scattered randomly around the bitch. Moving GoalPosts that shift laterally in respose to the volume of sound made by the crowd Release an enraged Bull at the close of play to hurry the teams off the pitch
brianc, Dec 08 2000

       First things first, anyone who does not appreciate soccer for its beauty and flow is simply out of their mind. I would also like to say that if we are going to make changes, we should do so to the least athletic/entertaining sport in the land, a.k.a. football. To be five foot nine, three hundred and forty pounds and considered an athlete can only happen in America, the most grossly overweight country in the world. If the NFL would put a weight limit on its players, we would see less fat and more fun and fast-paced excitement. Now this is a personal opinion, because I do play soccer (have since age 4), but again in my opinion football is the least athletic sport, wherein the rule of thumb is not survival of the fittest, but rather the fattest. Thank you for your time.
cletusboy, Dec 31 2000

       'Flow' of soccer? A bunch of losers in shorts stand around and look at each other for an hour, the game ends in a 0-0 tie and the fans burn the stadium down? I admit, the last part is something I'd love to see added to American football, but if I want to watch a load of inert idiots loitering, I'd watch baseball.
StarChaser, Jan 01 2001, last modified Jan 14 2001

       Keep the rules the same. Just have random drawings a full periods time prior to the match, and at the beginning of every period. The players would be those holding the matching ticket. No exchanges of ticket stubs, changes of shoes or full blown uniforms - just a colo[u]red jersey over whatever the new contestants are wearing. The contestants would be fairly stretched and in many cases inebriated by the time they got to the field of play. If a team is short-handed because someone hasn't quite made it down to the field, so what? Play begins or resumes. I believe this would be the epitome of Spectacle Of Sport.
thumbwax, Jan 01 2001

       I would like to take most of the comments here as tounge-in-cheek, shame that Americans can't accept football for what is is, a beautiful, simple game, oh and also the most popular game in the world. You suggest that the game is boring yet you have given us, Baseball(extremely dull, second only to cricket), basketball (which is probably the most repetitive sport in the world), and some strange sport they call football, (which really is just a mutant form of rugby).   

       At least our football flows somewhat, go to a live match as someone above suggested, you may find you enjoy it, or just don't bother with the game at all and just stick to what you like, but I think your Womens world cup winning team may have different opinions.
Fletche, Jan 02 2001

       Aside from basketball, there is another sport that is fully American in origin. It has a similar flow and strategy to soccer, but solves the low-scoring problem. I find it a more satisfying spectator sport than even soccer, basketball, baseball, or American football.   

       We need a World Lacrosse League.
beauxeault, Jan 02 2001

       Fletche, I agree with you that the other sports are boring...But the only thing more boring than soccer is golf...
StarChaser, Jan 09 2001

       ...and the only thing more boring than golf is...um...err. I'll get back to you.
DrBob, Jan 09 2001

       "the only thing more boring than soccer is golf" right.... i ASSUME you refer to sports, so i'll give you some that are much more boring than soccer. Baseball: 10 minutes of action spread out over a 3 hour period. Bowling: Rolling a ball on the floor towards some wooden clubs (why is bowling called a sport?) Curling: guys who sweep some ice with a broom to slow down a rock. AMERICAN Football: run into someone, grapple for 10-15 seconds, play stops for a 20 second break, repeat. "chase an inflated pig scrotum around a lawn" it seems you are trying to be clever, but that didn't work too well. instead of making childish and crude comments, perhaps you should MAKE AN ARGUMENT.
djhotsauce, Jan 09 2001

       DJ, does your mommy know you're out of bed? Go tell her she wants you, I'm sure she's forgotten.
StarChaser, Jan 12 2001

       I find that the interest I have in watching a sport grows proportionaly with the interest of the people I am watching it with. Golf or baseball become facinating when you are with someone who truely loves that game and can explain the nuances. I had a roomate that loved watching car racing. When I eventually sat down and watched it with him and was able to ask him 'why is this exciting?' I found that there really is some interesting stuff that happens. A good football comentator will make the game very interesting. Unfortunately for soccer, the only games I see are commentated on in Spanish, so unless they mention 'closing the window' or 'going to the library' I do not pick up much.
blahginger, Jan 12 2001, last modified Jan 13 2001

       These are actually ideas out of a MAD magazine :   

       Release the Wolverines (speaks for itself)
Dacking the Umpire - scores half a point for that team, full point if during penalty shots.
Detly, Jan 13 2001

       Same here. As a kid, I used to play football with my friends...<Never got much into baseball...>
StarChaser, Jan 14 2001

       Those of you who have offered alternatives for the beautiful game of football..don't..it seems ye have never played the game and if so had no natural talent. Football is loved by those who play it, by those who follow it fanatically in the terraces or from the comfort of their own home..it is not a game for everyone, everyone has their own preferences when it comes to sport or the lack there of. I've played soccer all my life, but i've also played a number of other sports, some of them i am good at, and some i am not but it is always fun...so chut up and go play some sport.
jordih, Feb 20 2001

       'I play it and you all suck because you don't like it'. Very mature.
StarChaser, Feb 23 2001

       AfroAssault: For those of us who used to play but had to quit through injury, talking strategy and tactics (and pointing out how nobody is as good as I used to be) is the only involvement that we have left. Where do you think all the TV 'experts' come from?
DrBob, Feb 23 2001

       Why must I go looking for one that entertains me? I don't particularly care to watch sweaty apes being athletic. I don't care that other people want to watch it, aside from the fact that I'm going to spend the rest of my time here in this county paying for a stadium that I did not want, will not use and have never seen the inside of so that some people can feel proud that they're part of an NFL city.   

       Go Bucs! And take the Glasiers and all the fans with you...
StarChaser, Feb 24 2001

StarChaser, Feb 24 2001

       I used to play football with my brother and some friends as a kid...Considering that I was a foot taller and 50 pounds heavier than anyone else my age, it was often entertaining...
StarChaser, Feb 25 2001

       drbob- (this comes late) Actually the experts are the ones that make me dislike sports the most. I play football because it's fun, and yes of course you have to think of strategy, but to have a pre-game and post-game show just for that? Damn
AfroAssault, Apr 24 2001

       It strikes me that this idea does not necessarily have to be focussed on 'soccer'. Surely one could take the word 'soccer' and replace it with another sport - say 'rugby', 'american football', 'lacrosse', or even 'golf'. I think you'll find that the essential theory of the idea will extend perfectly well to your chosen sporting target ...   

       Regarding 'experts', or pundits as they are sometimes referred to here in the UK, I am yet to speak to a football fan that believes Ron Atkinson improves the quality of sports broadcast.
Rodomontade, Apr 24 2001

       Ron Atkinson is the inventor of the phrase "early doors" a juxtposition of two previously unrelated words, which has been unquestioningly accepted into the English language. As such he should be cherished.
Lemon, Apr 24 2001

       as a huge soccer fan (and yes brits/aussies, i know you call it football, but i grew up calling it soccer - old habits die hard, ok?), i couldn't help but be drawn into this discussion.   

       the main reason soccer remains so popular throughout 95% of the world is its simplicity. all you really need to play it is a ball. no special clothing, padding, sticks, clubs, or footwear. the rules are simple and easy to learn, and you can play it just about anywhere you want.   

       that being said, i think this simplicity is the sport's downfall in the north american market. as an example, i was once told that americans love statistics in sports, and that makes the game more interesting for them. it's much easier to relate to an individual player, i.e. a baseball player who hit .341, had 25 doubles, 14 triples, 34 bb's, etc. than it is to relate to a team, which really has only its win-loss record to show for itself. soccer leagues have sprung up in the past, to varying degrees of success, and the current league may or may not survive, but the sport will never be as popular as the "traditional" north american sports. less popularity = less sponsorship ---> league dying. unfortunately, the beauty of the sport (it's simplicity) is lost on viewers that want more than just a good game.
mihali, Apr 24 2001

       [Lemon] That's a good point. I believe the Big Fat one also gave us "back stick" (usage: "early doors, the big guy's hung like a salmon at the back stick"), although that is yet to be accepted into more general usage. These are, however, relics of a bygone age. The primary contribution of Big Ron now is to confuse the subtitler (an aside: if you get the opportunity, watch a match blessed with commentary from Ron, and turn on subtitles. Chuckle as the subtitler strives to paraphrase his bleatings).   

       [mihali] There are statistics in football ( ... soccer), although admittedly they are usually in single figures. Sky Sports (main broadcaster of the English and Scottish leagues in the UK) are currently trying desperately to convince us that it matters how long one team has had the ball, or how long one team has spent in the attacking third. You are of course, quite right, there is no real place for statistics in football (... soccer) although the relation of this to its popularity in the US is unclear. Is the sport unpopular because it does not produce statistics (and therefore not produce sufficient material for analysis), or is the sport unpopular because it is not played in a fashion that allows for easy statistical analysis (i.e. it is not stop/start, broken into a clear series of offensive and defensive plays like American football or baseball)?
Rodomontade, Apr 24 2001

       rodomontade: actually, i think that it's unpopular (at least with the tv networks) because it's difficult to fit commercials into the broadcast ;-). but regarding statistics i think that without them, the average viewer has nothing to grasp except that his/her team won or lost. talking about soccer with your friends, all you can really mention about a player is how many goals he has and his number of caps. you don't sit there and say "ah yes, but beckham had 14 corners last year..." it just doesn't work.   

       also, (and i know i'm going to get flamed for this) i think the typical viewer is spoon-fed useless bits of trivia and stats to keep their focus on the broadcast. if baseball (as an example) were broadcast with no commentary, i believe that average viewer would quickly lose interest, because it's all the stats between breaks in play that keep his/her attention focused on the tv (and hence the commercials). <damage control>this is just a generalisation of course, i know that the "real fans" don't need all those extra bits to keep them interested, and besides they would probably be at the stadium to be a part of the experience, and not at home, blah blah blah, </damage control>...   

       so in conclusion, the answer is "yes" to both of your questions. i'd like to get into the relationship between "tv friendliness" of a sport and its success in the north american market, but i don't have the room here or the inclination.   

       p.s. have you ever noticed that the only ones who want to "improve" or change soccer are the ones who don't have a regular league to broadcast on tv? remember all the talk about changing the timing of the game to four 25-minute quarters for the world cup when it was played in the u.s.? etc.
mihali, Apr 24 2001

       I was alluding to the stop/start nature of the game providing suitable pauses for commercials, yes :) and I do remember the attempts to increase the number of breaks in a football match for USA 94 - I think it might have been 3 periods, rather than 4 though.   

       Here's a quote I just found:   

       "Statistics are like miniskirts: they give you good ideas but hide the important things," courtesy of Aberdeen boss, Ebbe Skovdahl.
Rodomontade, Apr 24 2001

       Don't forget to use "Tilty Pitch" for added efficiency and fun. "Tilty Pitch" for ALL your team sport pitch/catapult/injury requirements. "Tilty Pitch".
Carlos the Jackal, Nov 08 2001

       Statistics in soccer are useless and unnecessary. And contrary to what many Americans may think, a lack of statistics is not the reason why the sport has failed in their country. The reason, quite simply, is that very few Americans understand the nuances, flair, skill, strategy, stamina, intelligence, and passion that are a part of this sport. Even ESPN commentator Shamis Malin (I'm not sure if this is the correct spelling) seems to be promoting the wrong message. In a recent Champions League game featuring AS Roma, he made the comment that Cafu (who is one of the most talented wingmen in recent history) has such a low goal scoring tally for a player who attacks so much. The tone of voice in his statement almost suggested that Cafu may as well not be on the field if he could not score more goals. I was honestly ready to call ESPN to complain that they should hire someone who could understand the beauty of the game. After all, it is the beauty and flair of soccer that has made it the most popular sport in the world, not the number of goals that are scored. Perhaps Shamis is unaware of the time when Cafu flipped the ball over the same Lazio player (I think the unfortunate victim was Pavel Nedved) three times in sequence without the ball ever hitting the ground. (I'm sorry to say, but, this was a much more exciting moment than seeing any NFL running back dance by defenders with the ball secure in his HANDS). Then, in another game I heard Shamis make a similar "non-prolific goalscorer" comment about Clarence Seedorf of AC Milan. Newsflash Mr. Malin: Seedorf does plenty of other things (too bad they're hard to measure quantitatively). People like Shamis are bad for soccer. We don't need them and we don't need the American mentality infiltrating a game that combines athleticism, passion, and artistry like no other. Soccer is still gaining popularity worldwide. The Americans do not know what they are missing.
stevenstavros, Dec 30 2002

       +1 for stevenstravos...
NickHunter, Jun 21 2003

       / But I do understand that many Americans are bored by the low scoring frequency /- Why? Some of the best games I've seen have been knock-out 1-0 wins in the dying minutes of an end-to-end game, by giant-killers.
git, Jun 22 2003

       Did anybody notice the proper football game Today?
England 24 Australia 14. (see link)
gnomethang, Jun 22 2003

po, Jun 22 2003

       As an expat German, it's hard for me to understand why "soccer" hasn't taken off in the US. In a sense, it's the perfect synthesis of football (which I'll never understand) and basketball. It has football's personal heroics and basketball's speed and team-work. I think that its "non-statworthiness" has something to do with it, as several people have pointed out. Americans identify with sports heroes through their statistics. What they do on the field or court is almost secondary to how it impacts their stats. I rarely hear people talk about so-and-so's incredible play against some team; mostly, so-and-so is the greatest running back of all time because of a set of statistics. This starts at a very early age.   

       When I was a kid, I wanted to be Franz Beckenbauer in the same way that kids here want to be Shaq. I played "soccer," sucked at it and learned a greater appreciation for the sport and its players because I was so bad at it. I studied the sport and became personally involved in the victories and defeats of "my" teams and the players that I idolized.   

       Maybe it's just a matter of time. As kids play soccer and learn to appreciate it for all of the things that many of you have so eloquently described, they'll find players who are vastly better at it than they are and identify with them for intangibles like personal courage and ability to make strategic decisions very quickly under enormous pressure, without needing statistics to prove the players' and teams' greatness.
Fester, Jun 23 2003

       Nah, leave the beautiful game alone, it's fine as it is. I certainly don't think any of the suggestions in the original idea would constitute an "improvement."
saker, Jul 24 2003

       Soccer is the worlds most popular sport because it's the worlds cheapest/simplest sport to play. Neither of those two reasons necessarily make it the best sport.   

       as for [verfum]'s comments they are completely unfounded, soccer is the most popular sport in North America for small children, mostly because it's the easiest sport to teach to 5-9 year olds. When the children grow up they are capable of more complex sports with more complex rules and strategies. Such as Grid Iron Football, Hockey, Basketball.
SystemAdmin, Jul 24 2003

       Don't change it! It's one of the best soporifics on the market.
bristolz, Jul 24 2003

       probably not, but it isn't integral to the game.
SystemAdmin, Jul 24 2003

       Soccer was described in Time a while ago as "the game we make our children play". Strange that in Europe, particularly UK, soccer is regarded as a game for heroes but in US it's reserved for girls and children.
angel, Jul 25 2003

       With all due respect I'd like to point out a few things:   

       Soccer is America's most popular amateur sport. More people play soccer in the US than any other sport. I fail to see how our lack of a massive hero culture surrounding the sport translates into a lack of appreciation or knowledge of the sport. The average american sportsfan under age 25 who has not played soccer is about as knowledgable of baseball as they are of soccer. That is to say, the average american sportsfan under 25 does not know the nitty gritty of the strategy that goes on between a pitcher and hitter. Likewise the average american sportsfan under 25 does not know about the chessmatch that is a soccer game. This leads me to my next point...   

       Why is it offensive that America does not hold soccer in the same regard as American Football? Europeans are quick to criticize the American corporate and cultural empire (McDonalds in old Paris and the like) that flooding the shores of the international community, but the idea that we do not go crazy for the D.C. United seems to be hypocritical. What a bland world it would be if everything was the same everywhere.   

       Fact of the matter is the popularity of a sport is a reflection of the ideals that exist within a culture. America has a puritan, nose to the grindstone, work everyday culture. This is reflected in the fact that we take less vacation time off from our jobs than any other nation in the world. Another nation with a similar work ethic is Japan. For some reason both of these nose to the grindstone cultures find baseball to be entertaining. Why the insane work ethic and popularity of baseball coexist within these two cultures is something to chew on. For some reason American culture is not compatable with soccer.   

       (And for some reason, Americans love sports where the ball arcs [the high arcing home run in baseball, the 40 yard touchdown pass in american football, the graceful arc of a three point shot in basketball])
Greenline, Sep 23 2003

bristolz, Sep 23 2003

       //Soccer is America's most popular amateur sport ... For some reason American culture is not compatable with soccer. //
Am I the only person seeing a slight contradiction here?
calum, Sep 23 2003

       //the popularity of a sport is a reflection of the ideals that exist within a culture. America has a puritan, nose to the grindstone, work everyday culture//

Ah yes, I see. So that's why the NFL pays multi-million dollar contracts to players who spend nine months of the year on the beach.
DrBob, Sep 23 2003

       [calumn] You are not alone.
//America has a puritan, nose to the grindstone, work everyday culture//

       So scratching your knackers and hawking up phlegm in public is puritan now huh?   

       //the popularity of a sport is a reflection of the ideals that exist within a culture//   

       <doing hand scales weigh-up>Brazilian culture...English culture....Brazilian culture.....English culture..nope<dhswu>   

       And I say don't change it, but definately watch it live rather than on TV.
squeak, Sep 23 2003

       Baseball is based on the game known as 'rounders', which british schoolgirls were forced to play as they weren't allowed to play the 'manly' sport of cricket. British schoolgirls do tend to be hardworking and puritanical so maybe you have something there [greenspan]
nichpo, Sep 23 2003

       Soccer is a great sport. It is simple (apart from offside - hand me the pepper pot and salt shaker and I'll explain) but also intricate.
It doesn't need any novelty factor added to it. It doesn't need timeouts or stops in play so that television advertising can be interlaced with it. It doesn't need to be changed.

       It is in no way perfect - and is perhaps not the sport to watch if you are not bothered about either team. But if you happen to 'support' a team - and they play in an important match (like a derby match in Glasgow between the 'Old Firm' [apols to Thistle fans], Rangers and Celtic) then soccer is the ideal medium for entertainment. So much can hinge on little details because a single goal can change the complexion of an entire match and it can become extremely compelling stuff.
Jinbish, Sep 23 2003

       Interesting that people refer to football's (sorry, guys, it was called football long before you invented that ballet with body armour you call football) simplicity as a negative thing. A game that a group of people, anywhere in the world, can start playing in a matter of seconds. Requires: 1) a ball. 2) people. 3) things to make goalposts with.   

       Simplicity in how it's played is not to be confused with simplicity of the rules of the game. Just try understanding and implementing the laws on active and inactive players in offside positions.
neuro, May 17 2006

       Football is the most popular sport in the world, America is the least popular country in the world.
I think it is you who need to change!
MikeOliver, May 17 2006

       Why is it that no cultural difference or preference can ever be mentioned on this site without it turning in to America bashing?
half, May 17 2006

       It's only natural [half].
You recognise the leaders because they are the ones with lots of arrows in their backs.
methinksnot, May 17 2006

       To get back to the idea (just for a change), if you are going to have players randomly disappearing down trapdoors, you may as well have them randomly re-introduced to the game through a different trapdoor - a spring loaded mechanism should do the trick. Players would need to be launched at least a metre or two into the air, to give the trapdoor ample time to reclose before they land on it.
neutrinos_shadow, May 18 2006

       Bravo. The world needs more spring-loaded things.
methinksnot, May 18 2006

       This was recently baked in the form of a Budweiser advert that was illustrating in a comedic way, various inept American attempts to spice up football, including multiball etc. It concluded with the tagline "You do the football, we'll do the beer". It made me laugh, but if a huge brand like Budweiser can recognise how stupid an idea these alterations would be, why can't intelligent HBers?
DocBrown, May 18 2006

       I agree, [Doc], but they got the thing about the beer wrong too!. We're going to Germany for goodness sake!.
Oooh!. It's Becks O'Clock!.
gnomethang, May 18 2006

       I don't think American-bashing should be confused with a little friendly banter.
neuro, May 23 2006

       Yeah! You bloody Yanks have got no sense of humour.
DrBob, May 23 2006

       I understand how some people would find it boring, but you people can just watch another sport. Leave soccer alone for those who actually appreciate it's simplicity, instead of ruining it with some stupid gimmicks
apocalyps956, Nov 14 2007

       There is a very simple and obvious improvement that could be made to soccer that would make the game watchable: get rid of the offside rule. Let the players actually score for a change.
simonj, Nov 14 2007

       If each soccer goal were worht 100 points, that would spice things up. One could award lesser numbers of points of other lesser achievements in the course of the game.
bungston, Nov 14 2007

       That latest link might be worthy of the "spam" label. I'll let wiser heads make the call.
normzone, Nov 14 2007

       I was wondering what churned this relic up.
bungston, Nov 14 2007

       [admin: I just nuked the account being talked about here, who'd posted links to three hard hat and decal sites on various related-ish ideas - I hadn't noticed this for two years. Please, if you see something you think might be spam, point bakesperson@halfbakery.com to it in email - don't just annotate. Thanks!]
jutta, Sep 21 2009


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