The Untold ref review: Cobblestone Braga-Arsenal

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By Walter Broeckx

The ref for this game in the stone pit of Braga was from Hungary. His name was Viktor Kassai. And when you pronounce his name in my local tongue you can translate this in to a cobblestone. So was the ref rock solid?

Well….er…. just read it.

OTHER : After half an hour playing I had already made 3 remarks in my match report about the ref giving free kicks for every little contact made by an Arsenal player. They were going down as ballerina’s and the ref just gave the free kicks. But the other way round we really had to be brought down before something was given. It never is a good start when I have to mention more on the ref than on the actual playing things in my live match report.  0/3

OTHER: Djourou on the end of a cross, he shoots the ball that hits the defender. The ref gives no corner and the 5th ref who is just standing 5 meters (it could be 4 or 6 meters also) away from it just lets it go. What is he doing there? You are being paid to assist the ref and to help him to make the correct decisions. 0/1

CARD:  Eboue gets a yellow card for a tackle.  I can agree with this card but keep this in mind when Eboue gets mentioned later on in this ref review.  1/1

OTHER: From my live match report notes:  the ref keeps falling for every fall from the Braga players. Arsenal don’t get any free kicks at all. 0/1

CARD: Bendtner brought down after two tackles he can avoid the first but the second with both feet coming in was to much. Not a card ref? It does in my book. 0/1

We go in at half time. The ref has earned himself one point so far.

CARD: In the first 15 minutes of the second half the Braga players commit foul after foul after foul. The ref does nothing at first. He keeps his cards in his pocket. 0/1

CARD: Finally the ref gives a card for another foul against Cesc. 1/1

OTHER/CARD: Denilson booked for a pull and he prevents a counter. Correct this one. But let me just point out that Wilshere had his heel clipped and therefore lost the ball which started this counter. If the ref would have given the foul on Wilshere there wouldn’t have been a counter at all. But I can agree with the booking itself. 0/1 and 1/1

CARD: Djourou gets a yellow card for a tackle from behind. He played the ball but caught the Braga player also from behind. A correct decision.  1/1

OTHER/PENALTY/CARD/CARD: THE MOMENT OF THE GAME. Chamakh heads the ball to Vela who goes past the last defender. The defender throws himself at Vela who goes down. The defender got nothing of the ball and Vela would have been on his own in front of goal. The ref blows… and gives a free kick for Braga. Totally, totally, totally, totally wrong. It should have been a penalty and red card for the Braga defender.  0/1, 0/1, 0/1 and 0/1. The ref is totally wrong.  And all the reporters (as far as I could see and hear them) agreed on this: this was a stone wall penalty.

CARD:  Late and hard challenge on Wilshere correct booking. 1/1

OTHER: A defender touches the ball from a cross and again the ref gives no corner. And again the 6th official does not react. 0/1

CARD: tackle from behind on Eboue who is so badly injured he has to be carried off the field.  The ref gives no card??????? Compare this tackle to the one Eboue made in the first half for which he got a booking. This ref is clearly taking a different view when handing out the cards. 0/1

GOAL: Nothing wrong with the rulebook but note that we just have been down to 10 men. Not that it is against the rules to score against a side with 10 men of course. 1/1

CARD/CARD: Rosicky gets booked as he is  playing right back and right midfield. He puts his arm on the shoulder of the Braga player for a split second. And the Braga player runs a few meters and then  goes down. But when he went down Rosicky did not touch him and actually the Braga player brings himself down as he kicks himself to the ground by clipping his feet himself. Now this was a dive ref. Oh you missed it. Do you think I’m surprised at this stage?  0/1 and oh this was the Braga player that just kicked Eboue off the field, should have been his second by now. Because a clear dive must always be punished with a yellow card. O/1

GOAL: Again nothing wrong when I look in the rule book for this. 1/1

CARDS: 5/12


GOAL:  2/2

OTHER: 0/8

Total score: 7/23 (30%)

So if we take away the goals which were well within the rules one can only say that the ref was miserable. Very poor. And if we take the goals away he only gets a score of 23%.

Mr. Cobblestone can be placed in the same category as Mr. Dean. And if you ask me the question: did the ref cost us the game I will tell you without any doubt: YES, YES AND YES!

The way he always gave fouls in the first half to Braga was very irritating. After half an hour I knew we were playing against 12 men. After 45 minutes I knew it was against 13 men (5th ref) and after the penalty incident I knew he would do anything to stop us from scoring. In which he succeeded. And I wondered what are those extra officials doing down there? Just standing around and earning easy money? If you put those extra men there they must do their job and correct the ref. Because otherwise we can leave them at home and accept that the ref could not see it. But now on a few occasions they must have been blind for not seeing some things or an accomplice.

What can I say about the not given penalty. The defender throws himself towards Vela and the ball and completely misses the ball. Vela has to jump to save his legs and there is contact between Vela and the defender. When the whistle went everyone in the stadium was expecting a penalty and then the ref just turned it all around. Not only should we have got a penalty but as the defender was the last defender, Vela would have been on his own on goal so  the defender should have been sent off.

I’m not saying we would have scored from the penalty, as we never will know, but we would have been playing against 10 men from that moment on. And now minutes later we lost Eboue after a tackle where the Braga player came from behind and completely blocked his leg and I think his knee is done.  And the ref just gave no card for this.

I don’t know if the ref is just useless. I don’t know if he just is always a home referee. I don’t know if he has something against Arsenal. I just don’t know if he just is a bad ref. I cannot tell you but I do can tell you that he is a ref that got on my nerves even more than ref Dean. And I can tell you to succeed in this you must be really, really bad. And the worst part is: nothing can be done about it.

Highest score so far in the CL was 91% and the lowest… yes you guessed it I think….Ref Kassai.

A final note on being biased or not. After finishing my ref review and seeing the low score,  I saw the game again on another channel with another commentator. And he also talked a lot about the poor decisions from the ref. I went on the internet to see some live match reports from different newspapers and they also talked a lot about poor decisions from the ref. So maybe I could be biased but then it would mean that the other sources I checked were also biased. And I know that from the match commentator in Dutch that he is not an Arsenal fan but even he said that the ref took the points away from Arsenal.

Editorial note: sorry if you have had problems accessing this site today – the servers we use in Germany have been going up and down like yo-yos.  We’ve been trying to get them stable all day.

Untold Arsenal:

36 Replies to “The Untold ref review: Cobblestone Braga-Arsenal”

  1. The referee was absolutely disgraceful. I’ve written about it myself on my own blog, albeit it in a much less graceful way. Amazing work as usual Mr Broeckx 🙂

  2. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one. I thought the referee was unashamedly giving Braga every decision; every slight contact or dive was rewarded with an immediate free-kick, while Arsenal players had to be hacked down for him to even consider giving a foul.

    As for the Vela penalty, it was so embarrassing I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I’ve seen some biased refs, but Kassai is on a whole new level!

  3. The defender could have pulled out a pistol and splattered Vela’s brains across the pitch. The ref would still not give us the penalty.

  4. Ref was shite, but the least of our worries. Let’s examine our own performance both on the pitch and in dug out.

  5. Walter really love all the articles you and your team do and thanks for the great wrok but having seen the last two performances from Arsenal I am very worried.

    Yes it was a stone wall penalty last night but Barga are shocking honestly Arsenal should have put them away before half time then took off players to rest. Wenger is not the greatest at rotating players.

    The lack of personality and drive on the pitch is disgraceful yes we had a number of reserve players on show but wasnt this there time to shine??? Fabregas is a excellent player but he he is not a captain in my view.. this has been shown time and again.

    The thought that Arsenal cant be bully anymore is horse-shit we have the biggest bunch of woman in the preimership it would appear that they has been too much coaching on techic i.e. we always try to score the perfect goal and not enough on team building, communication, organsation, strength and game tactics.

    This total football label that Wenger has created is not producing results and more importantly trophies. I dont believe you cant play stylist football and yet not be hard to score aganist. Its about balance and we simply do have this at present.

    I’ll end on what alot of fans are talking about, we had one of the greatest back 4 ever why on earth are these players not back at the club helping the current team become a more solid unit, and yes I understand its a teams job to defend.

    I adore Arsenal, love Wenger but this continuation of losing big games by making basic errors needs to be address. For all his great qualties and he has many… the man lacks the ability to take himself out of the situation and assess the teams weak areas which is a serious fault. We have always been great going forward but are weaker in defense than the top teams and thats why we wont win any competitions.



  6. I totally agree with your rating Walter , but i wonder if it was a bit of a stich up by UEFA.It’s no coincidence that the only report I have read that doesn’t mention about the penalty not being given or how bad the referee was is on the actual UEFA.COM site.They really seem to hate Arsenal and I think it was in the referees remit to make it as hard as possible for Arsenal to get anything from this game which him and his assistants did a good job of doing.

  7. The moment I heard Paddy Power on talk sport ‘poo poo’ Adrian Duram’s assertions that Arsenal might not win this game I was worried… since when does a bookie discourage long-shot bets unless he knows something the mugs don’t?!

    This, in my opinion was a textbook fixed match – this is why we need a consistency score in the ref review… when the pitch is tilted to the degree it was last night it would be circa 70/30 consistency of decisions in favour of Braga.

    Walter – if you would be willing to discuss a one off collaboration article for these pages on referee performance and bias – I have some fairly astute observations on the subject?

    You can get my email from Tony if you are interested and I will explain.

  8. aside from the referee stealing the game from us, from the 19th minute when I started watching the game I could see that Arsenal had pressed the self destruct button and I was not surprised by the result.

    there was no purpose to the play and that idiot Bentner who wants regular first 11 football in the team was so ineffectual we might have been playing with 10 men. Cesc and Jack gave the ball away regularly, Eboue was not sure if he was a defender or a midfielder. The amount of space on the left by Gibbs was not used to effect. Simply they played so poorly that I feel the reserves could have beat that team.

    Maybe they are still smarting from the defeat on Saturday that their football brain can still be seen blowing in the wind at the EMs.

    How am I gonna bring myself to watch the Villa game with any sort of gusto or enthusiasm.

    P.S Walter I really admire you for being able to watch that game over and over just to give us a neutral opinion on the Ref. Cheers dude.

  9. John, its hard to rate Arsenal’s performance when, as Walter pointed out, they were playing against 13 men. When the other team isn’t playing football and the ref is happy to let them do this, how can we expect Arsenal to thrash them 6-0?

  10. Thanks Walter, I also saw right from the start that we were butchered by the Braga players with no one protecting us. It’s a disgrace, period.

  11. You can blame the ref all you want, but you should examine how Arsenal played. Both goals Arsenal got: the defenders were a joke!!!! As for the penalty: there was an offside position before the ball got to Vela so it wouldn’t have been right for them to score. As for the coach, he could start examine his own decisions why his team played so badly in the last few games.
    I see…. that was the ref’s fault also.

  12. Frosty I would not expect Arsenal to win 6-0 I would have been happy with 1 or 2 basically a win enough to win the game that’s all. But for this to happen you need to take shots and secondly when you have work hard in creating any oppurnity you are clincal and do not require three good chnaces to score one goal.

    I think its the bigger picture that is being missed here in that yes the ref was terrible, yes Braga played a very defensive game but the biggest problem was Arsenal playing very badly. There seems to always be an excuse like the referee was poor, we were tired, we have many injuries the players and managers need to accept they didnt perform/ made mistakes then try to correct these going forward.

    As I said most of the team were given a chance by Wenger to show what they can do and what they show us is they were not good enough for Arsenal.

    There are so many problems at the moment I really wouldnt know were to start maybe players not to be docked wages for performances like that I felt for the away fans spending money to see it!

  13. Talk of a UEFA stitch up sounds like playground talk to me. It was a night of poor team performance and a poor referee. We were denied a clear cut penalty, but I can’t believe we were cheated. In my 30 years of following arsenal I have never seen a cheating referee. Plenty of mistakes though

  14. Walter well done another article that acurately sums up what everyone else feels this morning we were robbed.

    John you gotta remember when you beat a team 6-0 it never happens twice its rare you beat them again.

    Remember us beating blackburn 6-0 a few years back I think Mark Hughes was the Blackburn Boss back then. What happens when we played them later in the league.

    Heck what happens when we play any team of mark hughes right now they tighten up park the bus and make dam sure you wont score.

  15. Use the killer logic that ‘you can’t blame the ref’ and ignore that this review series has been covering every game! Genius.

    Anyway, considering the extra help from the extra ‘officials’, 30% is too generous!

    Thanks again Walter, for taking the time to write this series. Home advantage is one thing, but, that was bizarre.

    Video replays please FUFA.
    A few extra cabels at these games to hook up the 4th official. Is it too expensive? Is it much to ask?
    Otherwise, we might have to endure Drogba screaming into the camera again. That’d be too much.

  16. You know, I almost NEVER hear supporters of other teams talking about how they were shafted by the official/s. It’s just not a concern for them. The fact that we have a ref watch piece on this site says a lot about what we get from the Men in Black. Maybe someone can help me understand why we keep getting officials of this sort. I thought it was mostly down to xenophobia in the EPL, but now I’m seeing it in the CL as well…
    So what is it about our team that invokes this sort of anti-Arsenal bias from the officials? Is it because we don’t apply The Theory of General Negativity (i.e. diving, cheating, wrestling and thuggery) to get results, like Braga did last night?

  17. Everthing that could possibly go wrong , did.
    The reasons must be pinpointed and corrected and there seem to be too many of them piling up at the moment.
    From management level, players and supporters.
    We have become too big, too soon.
    The move to Emirates has changed the fabric of what Arsenal should be.
    I expect it will take a lot longer to find a modus vivendi which will suit our new reality.Only then will we be capable of challenging at the highest level again.
    A Carling or FA cup would be the kind of success which could start this team on a road towards higher honours.

  18. This game was ripe for fixing, specially as all betting experts were calling for 2.5 goals or more! But I can’t prove a thing, except for ref’s dumb ass decisions.
    Having said that, we didn’t help ourselves either. I’m behind Wenger as much as the next guy around here, but would it kill him to make his substitutions before the 70th minute? When the team didn’t work in the first 45, it most probably won’t after the break either.

  19. Why am I suddenly getting the vibe that people think that the scum are now better than us, that’s the part of the defeat that hurts most, people think that the balance of power is shifting across north London, heck we’ve already lost London to the KGB. horrible performance from the referee probably an undercover scum fan.

  20. With no intention to give excuse to our um… impotent display last night, Walter, I think you are wroooooooooong, 30% is away to much for what I sow last night. What is point in having 5 f..king refs on pitch if each of them will be equally blind. Even George Bush jr would see penalty there…

  21. For those who say that I should look at Arsenals performance I can only say that this can be done in other articles.

    But this is the REF REVIEW article which I do every game that I can see completely. That means all of them in fact. 😉
    So in this article I only talk about the decisions from the ref, seen from my knowledge as a ref.

    But however bad (or good) we play, whatever the result may be (win or lose) my only goal is to review the decisions from the ref. And I do love to point out that the second highest score so far I have given this season was when we lost a game. And one of the lowest scores was when we won a game. So I do think that I can judge the ref without trying to look at the final score.

    So I do understand that people tell me to look at how we played but how we play doesn’t matter when a player is brought down when he goes past the last defender and the ref refuses to give one of the clearest penalty decisions from the season so far.

  22. 7104 – the reason you get this feeling is because the anti-Wengerian commando force use the notion that the last two matches tell us everything. They have no historical perspective.

    The notion of 50 years since having won the league for example is quite beyond them.

  23. I am just watching game Shchalke – Lyon and Farfan just got yellow for simulating, and trying to compare it to what was seen in “Vela case”, and I still cant believe ….

  24. @Bexxy

    “In my 30 years of following arsenal I have never seen a cheating referee.”

    Really? 30 years eh? Well… to refresh your memory – here’s a fine example:

    Now, I wonder what Mike Riley is doing now… oh that’s right – he’s head of the PGMOL and chooses the referee’s for EPL fixtures.

    One wonders why you and your worm-tongued cronies come here to crow like cockerels at our every defeat, apologise for blatant corruption, pontificate from the safety of ‘retrospect’ on tactical competence, blame the manager with a tactic of relentless ‘tabloid’ dehumanisation and repeat you rather shallow mantra over and over and over?

    I imagine you hope it will polarise the fanbase and apply the type of pressure that will make the managers position untenable thus destabilising the club you claim to support for ’30 years’ even further? One gets the impression that you love nothing more than to see Arsenal fail?

    You are either a troll or slightly retarded with absolutely no comprehension of what the issues with football, and our clubs place in it, are – every problem, in your eyes, begins and ends with Wenger. This is your aimless crusade and in that I have some pity.

    By the way – as Walter rightly points out, this is the ‘ref review’ – so your earleir comment:

    “Ref was shite, but the least of our worries. Let’s examine our own performance both on the pitch and in dug out.”

    is another example of the transparancy of your agenda.

  25. Bexxy, I seriously believe you’re on the wrong website, and I think you misunderstood my point. I wasn’t saying that we focus or complain too much about refs costing us games, and should stop. Far from it. I was actually asking for a reason why these officials feel a need to be blatantly biased against us, as was the case against Braga. Despite our poor performance, I strongly believe a ref’s decisions can have a HUGE influence on the direction of a game. And I believe if the ref had been able to perform at even 50%, we may have even won the game.
    Just think, if we’d been given our penalty, and (very likely) scored it, we would not have needed to press forward and hence we would not have been caught on the counter. Had the ref not given Braga free reign to play rugby with us, we’d have probably finished the game with 11 men instead of 10. After scoring our penalty, we could have played keep ball and defended (all 11 of us), forcing them to come out and create spaces, much like we (kind of) did at Everton. Not surprisingly, it took a poor decision by an official against us for Everton to get their consolation goal, but our team had the right idea, and got the result.
    So in my opinion, a referee can decide the direction a game takes, by selectively blowing his whistle in favour of whichever team’s logo is printed on his boxers. If we’re being done an injustice by the officials, we have the right to speak up about it. It would be foolish not to – foolish simply allow the monkeys in the media to brainwash some of our more malleable fans into believing our team and / or our manager really do suck… Well I’m not buying it.
    So thanks Walter, for the ref review, I’m sure you’re not winning the popularity contest among some EPL refs if they’ve caught wind of these reviews, but we appreciate it. Keep ’em coming.

  26. Great article Walter. I started to think if this ref was 2nd in row that would cost us a match after that Vela thing.
    honestly I wonder if Vela had not jumped and had got his leg broken would ref give him red card for “really commited dive”?

  27. A casual observer,

    I didn’t know that this b*st*rd Mike Riley was the head of PGMOL and is involved in chosing the referees.
    I must say I feel really sick about this. And I start to understand some things.

    Thanks for putting up the link as this was the most disgraceful referee we have seen. A nice remainder and maybe Tony could put the link to this video somewhere on the site or I could repeat it in each ref review.

    Oh my blood is boiling after seeing this video once again. How on earth can such a bad and biased referee get such an important function and decide who will referee which game. I really didn’t know.

  28. Thanks for the great article, Walter. It has lanced a lot of the resentment that has been bubbling around inside me all day, because I can feel that it isn’t just me. You have picked up on many of the things that drove me mad about the game.

    One thing that really got to me, but was only peripherally picked up on in your report was how obvious the inconsistency was in the decisions. Three times I saw an Arsenal player fouled, the Braga player coming away with the ball and the ref giving nothing. Each time the Braga player was challenged within a few seconds and each time the ref blew a foul. In each case the Braga offense was far worse, I’m not sure if all of the Arsenal tackles were even fouls.

    It has been a long time since I have been so disgusted at the performance of a team of officials. You could see the impact on the players. Vela was challenged (fouled?) in the box a few minutes after THAT incident and you almost felt he was afraid to go down in case he got sent off.

    The only decision I was not sure of, was the Eboue Booking. It looked like he got the ball; what made it a booking?

  29. you forgot to mention the second goal for braga….denilson went to sheild the ball and the braga player clattered into him allowing the ball to roll to the striker who hade a really good run and finish…the ref (instead of giving a foul on denilson) gave advantage to braga as if denilson was the player committing the foul!!

  30. Rufusstan,
    I agree with the second Vela penalty incident you mention. But at that time I was already so disgusted by everything that I couldn’t care anymore. But I also saw that he Braga player hit his foot and Vela knew that even when they would break his leg he wouldn’t get a penalty so you could see him thinking: don’t go down. But it could have been a penalty also. But I think we all know he would never have given something for us.

    About Eboue I also would like to point out that in the first half he went down (in his Eboue way) and that the ref played on. He was holding his foot and replay showed that the Braga player clearly had stepped on his foot. Just another example of the ref being biased against us. This was taken on board in the first thing as it was one of my match report remarks but I didn’t go in to this in detail.

  31. A casual observer,

    I will try to get in touch with you.

    And one question that came to me this night is: is there somewhere on the internet the full game available from 2004 when Riley on his own ended our unbeaten run and displayed his total bias against us?

    For some reason I would like to do an untold ref review on this game, just for myself (I could make it public if Tony would like to have this) maybe in the build up for the next United game?)

    In those days I couldn’t see all the games and I didn’t have arsenal TV and I wasn’t writing at all about Arsenal. But my God how I wished I had done this series in those days.

  32. @C4

    Let me make this crystal clear. I am 40 years old and have been actively following Arsenal for 30 years. For the 1st 10 years I could not appreciate football outside of my beloved Arsenal. As I matured, I became not only an Arsenal fan, but also a football fan. I began to appreciate the efforts of opponents. I also appreciate the role of officials and the mistakes that are part and parcel of the game.

    I have been interested in this website for around 12 months, and started posting recently. This site seemed the perfect platform for my feelings towards both club and manager.

    It now seems that my views are no longer welcome here, which I find sad. I can not stomach the anti-Wenger sites and hoped that this site may have been the home for a balanced view.

  33. Faisal, about the second goal as i didn’t get any other angle on Denilson incident I can understand when I look where the ref is standing that he thought it was Denilson who commited a foul. So I will not argue this decision from the ref. But let me say it was in line with the rest of his game: in case of doubt give the decision to Braga.

  34. @Bexxy. Before you walk away; some perspective.

    If you’ve been reading here for some time, you will know that the ‘Sky is falling’ crowd appear on occasion and spew vitriol at random. With that in mind, along with Tony’s proscription that comments should be on topic with the article, your first comment is guaranteed to get people’s hackles up as it basically dismisses the whole point of the article.

    On point, I would add that I actually think that we did very little wrong in the game on Tuesday and that is why the impact of the ref was so important.

    People forget that away games in Europe are not a foregone conclusion, and that we actually didn’t need to win to go through. I think we went out to control the game, be patient and wait for the opportunity to come. We did just that, and in fact Braga were reduced to repeatedly fouling us simply to stay in the game, breaking up play and trying to knock us out of our rhythm. If the ref had done his job, we would have at least got a draw out of the game and probably would have won it.

    He impacted on us in 2 ways. Firstly by making bad (Biased?) calls. By not calling fouls when the braga players made them, he made it harder for our game to flow. He also got crucial decisions wrong when we did build up pressure, that allowed Braga to escape. We were not going to get many chances to win it under these circumstances, but we did forge a perfect opportunity to score, but again the ref denies one of the most clear-cut penalties that I have seen in a while.

    The second way that the ref impacted on the game was by not controlling the way the game was played. Despite the Braga gameplan, they were only credited with 3 fouls more than we were (19 vs 16) and we were given more than twice as many yellow cards (5 to 2).

    If the ref had done his job and given one of the Braga players a card early in the game, they would have had to ether: change their plan, be more careful in the tackle, or risk getting players sent off. All of which would have given us more time and space to play our game. By not doing his job, the ref gave Braga a license to continue to kick our players, which led directly to Eboue’s injury, and us spending the last few minutes down to 10 men, a fact that they took full advantage of.

    With all of those points taken into account I cannot see how we could have done anything differently except miraculously ‘be better’, something that we were not being allowed to do.

    Lastly, on the point of why do we blame refs more than other teams. Probably because of the way that we play. We usually have the bulk of the possession and we rely on being allowed to play. To some extent that needs the ref to protect us, and it is obvious when that is not happening. Negative strategies that other teams use to thwart us are beyond our control and are down to the ref to deal with (niggly fouls, time wasting etc).

  35. Completely agree. The ref was so bad, he really did cost us the game. I watched up until the 1st goal and I really didnt think any player for us was that bad. We werent so effective going forward but at the same time we were clearly the better side again, clearly in control.
    Had the ref been a bit more competant and seen through all their diving, I think we would have been a bit more effective going forward. Even then, had he given the penalty for the foul on vela I still think we would have won. It’s true we could have done better for their goals, especially the 2nd, but the game was stolen from us. Eboue (someone with some pace) might have been back to help denilson for the 1st goal and then the 2nd might never have come. So much wrong with this game.

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