UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has acknowledged the 2019-20 season across Europe would likely be lost if football is unable to restart by the end of June.

The 2019-20 season has been suspended indefinitely across most of Europe due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Euro 2020 also pushed back to 2021.

While leagues are hoping to restart between the end of April and the beginning of June, there is as yet no definite return date and Ceferin has conceded it may be impossible to finish the season at all.

In that case, UEFA's president has suggested the campaign would have to be considered as null and void.

"If we don't succeed in restarting, the season will probably be lost," Ceferin told Italian publication La Repubblica.

"There is a plan A, B and C. The three options are to start again in mid-May, in June or at the end of June.

"There is also the possibility of starting again at the beginning of the next [season], starting the following one later. We will see the best solution for leagues and clubs."

Some matches on the continent, including Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund, were played behind closed doors earlier this month, and Ceferin stated playing games without fans in attendance may be the only solution in order to complete the season.

"It's hard for me to imagine all the matches behind closed doors, but we still don't know whether we'll resume, with or without spectators," he said.

"If there was no alternative, it would be better to finish the championships."

Fabio Cannavaro believes it will be difficult for European football to return before the season ends amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Sport has been brought to a standstill due to COVID-19, with Serie A, LaLiga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and the Premier League all on hiatus.

The Champions League and Europa League finals have also been postponed, with Euro 2020 pushed back to next year following more than 18,800 deaths worldwide – over 9,800 of the casualties from Italy and Spain.

Former Italy, Juventus and Real Madrid defender Cannavaro – now in charge of Chinese Super League powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande – is not confident that football will resume by May.

"In less than a month it is not known what is going to happen in the world," the 43-year-old told COPE.

"I think it will take a long time for this to end in Italy and Spain.

"It will be difficult for European football to return before the season ends."

Cannavaro has been based in China since joining Evergrande in 2014 before returning in 2017, while he was briefly in charge of the national team last year.

China has enforced strict measures to combat the spread of coronavirus, which originated in the country and has claimed more than 3,270 lives.

"The virus in Guangzhou is under control and life is beginning to go back to normal," Cannavaro added. "There are no more restrictions, only 14 days at home.

"In two days, I finish my quarantine. All of us who come back have to do it.

"Staying at home is essential because we do not give the virus the opportunity to infect more people.

"We have to learn from China, they have more experience in this situation."

UEFA has formally announced the postponements of the Champions League and Europa League finals due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Champions League final had been due to take place on May 30 in Istanbul, with the decisive Europa League encounter scheduled to be contested in Gdansk three days earlier.

However, those games, along with the Women's Champions League final - originally allocated for May 24 in Vienna - will now be played at later dates.

The decision is no surprise, with the vast majority of club football in Europe having been put on hold due to the spread of the virus.

A working group, established last week following a conference call between the stakeholders of European football, is to analyse the available options for fulfilling the fixtures.

In a statement confirming the postponements, UEFA said the working group had already begun its examination of the calendar.

Only half of the eight Champions League last-16 ties have been completed, with Paris Saint-Germain, Atalanta, Atletico Madrid and RB Leipzig progressing.

The Europa League is at the same stage, with just six first-leg matches completed.

The Women's Champions League has reached the quarter-finals, with the first-leg matches scheduled for March 25 and second-leg clashes pencilled in for April 1 all postponed because of the pandemic, which has killed over 16,000 people worldwide.

 

UEFA says no decision has been made over the name for the European Championship next year after earlier stating it would remain Euro 2020.

It was announced this week that the tournament has been postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

If the competition had gone ahead as scheduled, it would have marked the 60th anniversary of the European Championship and it appeared on Friday there would be no rebranding for that reason.

A reply on a frequently asked questions page on UEFA's website read: "We trust that all of our venues will remain the same, ensuring the tournament remains true to its original vision: staging a truly Europe-wide event that befits the EURO's 60th birthday. 

"The tournament will still be known as UEFA EURO 2020."

A tweet from the UEFA account also read: "Although it will provisionally take place from 11 June - 11 July 2021, #EURO2020 will still be known as UEFA EURO 2020."

The governing body later revealed those posts were wide of the mark.

A UEFA tweet said: "With apologies for the earlier error, to be clear no decision has yet been made on the name of the rearranged EURO to be held in 2021. The earlier tweet was sent by mistake."

UEFA has insisted Euro 2020 will not be rebranded despite having been provisionally suspended by 12 months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

It was announced earlier this year the latest instalment of the tournament will be pushed back to 2021, with the competition set to take place between June 11 and July 11 next year.

Despite having to delay its flagship international event, UEFA still intends to retain the Euro 2020 name.

Holding the Euros this year would have marked the 60th anniversary of the European Championship.

A reply on a frequently asked questions page on UEFA's website read: "We trust that all of our venues will remain the same, ensuring the tournament remains true to its original vision: staging a truly Europe-wide event that befits the EURO's 60th birthday. 

"The tournament will still be known as UEFA EURO 2020."

The decision to postpone the Euros was taken in order to allow UEFA's member nations to complete their respective seasons, most of which have been suspended due to the spread of COVID-19.

UEFA added that is not yet able to say if its major club competition finals will still take place on their original dates and at their scheduled venues.

"It is too early to say. Our aim is to complete all European and domestic club competitions by the end of the current sporting season – 30 June 2020 – if the situation improves," read an answer to another question. 

"However, the health of all people involved in the game must first be guaranteed.

"The working group will assess different scenarios. We must wait for the outcome of its discussions as well as the evolution of the situation before reaching any conclusions."

UEFA was also unable to say how qualification for next year's club competitions may work amid the uncertainty, adding: "It is too early to answer this question and our objective is to ensure that all domestic competitions can be completed."

LaLiga president Javier Tebas remains hopeful that all European leagues can be completed by June 30 despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The majority of sports across the globe have been halted by the outbreak of COVID-19, with football seeing Euro 2020 and the Copa America pushed back to 2021 as a result.

Tebas is part of a working group set up by UEFA to devise solutions for the "resumption and/or conclusion of the current season in a coherent manner".

LaLiga's chief is confident things can be wrapped up by the end of June, though he acknowledged around six weeks of competition would be required.

"The fundamental scenario is that mid or late May is the latest starting date to end on June 30," said Tebas in an interview with El Pais.

"The scenario may also depend on some Champions League games that will be played at the weekend, which could give us some room to start some clubs later, or that we can recover by starting all a little later.

"We are even working with leagues like the Italian one, which has 14 games left, and the Danish one, which has 15 remaining. The decision of UEFA to postpone the European Championship has served us well to try to finish the competitions. 

"We made the calendar calculations even before the European Championship was postponed. It was a stage that we knew could be reached and we are working on various start dates.

"Here you have to work backwards, with what is the last date on which you could play to see the options that may arise.

"When we start playing there will be full medical guarantees, but that no longer depends on us, it will depend on the governments of the countries. If they guarantee that it can be played, it will be played."

Tebas insisted there are no plans to cut down on fixtures and admitted fans could be kept out of games when they resume.

He said: "That will also depend on the governments of each country. You have to think that we are working with 30 different leagues and it will depend on the health authorities if it is played behind closed doors or under what conditions.

"We are not considering any format change for any competition, including the European ones. The mandate that we have is to finish the competitions as they are now. The calendar with which it works is with the competitions in full and in their usual format.

"The only job that concerns me day and night is to finish the competitions."

UEFA convened a conference call featuring its major stakeholders on Tuesday to map out European football's response to the coronavirus crisis.

The governing body's 55 member associations, the European Club Association, European Leagues and the international players' union Fifpro were all represented.

Rescheduling flagship tournaments such as Euro 2020, the Champions League and the Europa League were key matters to address, along with domestic scheduling concerns.

Here, we look at the key decisions taken and what the ramifications might be.


EURO 2020 BECOMES EURO 2021

European club football entered a continent-wide shutdown across its major leagues over the past week, making the completion of 2019-20 competitions on schedule a virtual impossibility.

These circumstances made moving the European Championship an obvious course of action and Euro 2020 has been put back 12 months to 2021, where it will occupy the same June-July timeslot.

The format for the competition remains, with teams and supporters set to travel across 12 host cities throughout Europe – an arrangement at odds with seeking to contain a pandemic - meaning the longer delay is certainly preferable to a mooted November scheduling in this regard.

Interestingly, UEFA intends to stage this month's postponed Euro 2020 qualification play-offs in the international window at the beginning of June this year. The different stages the virus has reached in different countries means all nations involved being safe to play in under three months is far from guaranteed, while there is likely to be stress placed upon club scheduling given Tuesday's other major decision.

 

A COMMITMENT TO COMPLETING 2019-20 SEASON BY JUNE 30

While pushing Euro 2020 back 12 months looks like the common-sense option, UEFA's announcement on club competitions appears fraught with potential difficulties.

The Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A and the Bundelsliga are suspended until the start of April, with further delays expected, while Ligue 1 is on hiatus until further notice.

Even if prompt resumptions are secured, UEFA's ambitious target will come to loom quickly. Further high-profile matches behind closed doors appear likely and necessary.

The motivation of all involved is fairly clear, given a season stretching beyond June 30 is hugely problematic because that is the date when player contracts typically expire. Keeping the 2019-20 season in an indefinite state of limbo would also bring associated financial pressures and uncertainty for many clubs.

 

WOMEN'S EURO, EUROPEAN UNDER-21 CHAMPIONSHIP AND NATIONS LEAGUE TO MOVE

Euro 2020's move 12 months down the line meant it clashed with the Women's Euro 2021 in England.

This would have proved particularly problematic for the women's competition, given it was due to kick-off on July 7 – four days out from the newly scheduled European Championship final at Wembley.

But the tournament will be moved. UEFA has not decided where to in the calendar just yet and there will be similarly unspecified new dates for the European Under-21 Championship in Hungary and Slovenia and the 2021 Nations League Finals.

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar not taking place until November and December of that year could prove handy here.

 

EXPANDED FIFA CLUB WORLD CUP ALSO PUSHED BACK

UEFA thanked FIFA for its understanding in allowing the rescheduling of Euro 2020, meaning a circumstantial detente between Aleksandr Ceferin and the man who preceded him as UEFA chief – FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

One source of friction between the most powerful continental federation and world football's government body has been Infantino's dubious masterplan of an expanded 24-team Club World Cup.

Despite little indication of European support – the ECA greeted the March 2019 unveiling by stating its members' intention to boycott - the tournament was due to launch in China in 2021. But no more. CONMEBOL moving in parallel with UEFA to stage the 2020 Copa America a year later means the nations intended to supply 14 of the clubs to Infantino's jamboree would be in international action.

In a statement, FIFA pledged to seek a new date for the Club World Cup, either later in 2021, 2022 or 2023. This unprecedented situation has brought the cordiality required but expect battle lines to be redrawn down the road.

UEFA has announced a commitment to see all European and domestic club competitions for the 2019-20 season completed by June 30.

Earlier on Tuesday, following discussions during a video conference convened by UEFA, it was announced Euro 2020 would be postponed by 12 months to account for the impact of the coronavirus pandemic upon the sporting calendar.

That theoretically freed up room for remaining club commitments to be seen through by the recognised end of the season - June 30 being the date when out-of-contract players would normally cease to be employed by their clubs.

European football is on a virtual continent-wide shutdown as part of efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19, with the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A and LaLiga on hold until the start of April and Ligue 1 indefinitely.

Last week, UEFA postponed its forthcoming Champions League and Europa League ties, with both competitions in the midst of their last-16 phases.

A release signed by the UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, European Club Association chairman Andrea Agnelli, European Leagues president Lars-Christer Olsson and FIFPro Europe president Bobby Barnes specified "a commitment to complete all domestic and European club competitions by the end of the current sporting season, i.e. 30 June 2020 at the latest, should the situation improve and resuming playing be appropriate and prudent enough".

The statement continued by outlining flexibility in terms of scheduling domestic matches in midweek slots and UEFA club competition fixtures at weekends, and added "possible adaptations" to the qualifying rounds of the 2020-21 Champions League and Europa League were possible if the June 30 target date is not met.

Reports earlier on Tuesday floated June 24 and 27 as potential respective slots for the Europa League and Champions League finals.

A working group comprised of UEFA, league and club representatives will now be established to find solutions "allowing for the resumption and/or conclusion of the current season in a coherent manner".

A second working group will be established at a later date to assess the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis and offset any adverse consequences.

Any completion of club commitments must factor in the scheduled June international break, when UEFA intends to stage qualification play-offs for what is now Euro 2021.

The Women's Euro 2021, the 2021 European Under-21 Championship and the 2021 Nations League finals will all be rescheduled as a result of the men's European Championship moving to July 11 to June 11 of that next year, although UEFA has not confirmed new dates for those affected tournaments at this stage.

The coronavirus pandemic is still raising questions across sport, even with the global calendar decimated by cancelled and postponed events.

Coronavirus has, according to official figures, caused around 6,500 deaths from approximately 170,000 confirmed cases worldwide.

As the pandemic continues, there are going to be some big decisions made in the world of sport over the coming week, with UEFA's 55 members set to come together – via video conference – on Tuesday.

The fate of this season's Champions League and Europa League will be up for debate, while Euro 2020 is also to be discussed.

Here is a look at the latest developments:

 

Ahead of Tuesday's meeting with UEFA, Italian football federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina confirmed he will call for Euro 2020 to be postponed, in the hope that might allow the Serie A season to be finished in June.

This proposal will likely be backed by LaLiga boss Javier Tebas, who is convinced the top-flight season in Spain will be completed. Swiss FA president Dominique Blanc, meanwhile, has confirmed he has coronavirus.

It is not yet clear what will happen in the Premier League, with the teams set to reconvene for another meeting on Thursday and, after coming under criticism for stating that the season should be considered "null and void", West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady defended her comments.

"The Premier League and EFL are doing all we can to ensure the season is finished. Including suspending games, isolating players, and if required playing games behind closed doors and into the summer months," she wrote on Twitter.

"My point was safety of fans, players, staff come first and if the remaining games just cannot be played the only fair and reasonable thing is to declare [the] season null and void."

In a newspaper column, Wayne Rooney backed the decision to postpone fixtures in England, but criticised the Premier League and EFL for taking so long to make the call.

More players have confirmed they have tested positive for COVID-19.

Valencia defender Ezequiel Garay became the first LaLiga player to be named as having the illness, with the club adding four more members of the first-team playing and coaching staff had also tested positive.

Valencia's former Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala confirmed later on Sunday that he was one of those with the virus.

In Serie A, Sampdoria's Omar Colley posted a video to his official Instagram account in which he refuted his club's claim that he too had received a positive test result.

Meanwhile, Manchester United's Paul Pogba joined the raft of sports stars pledging to support people during the crisis, as he launched a fundraiser to mark his 27th birthday.

In France, Paris Saint-Germain announced they had extended the suspension of all club operations until March 18.

In the United States, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert – the first NBA player to be diagnosed with coronavirus – provided a positive update on his recovery, while also stating: "I wish I would have took this thing more seriously and I hope everyone else will do so because we can do it together."

Not all sport has been postponed just yet, with rugby league in both Britain and Australia continuing for now.

In Super League, Castleford Tigers ran out winners over defending champions St Helens, though in the National Rugby League (NRL), Melbourne Storm's Cameron Smith called for the competition to be suspended.

Round two is set to go ahead next week, albeit behind closed doors, while New Zealand Warriors have elected to remain in Australia rather than return to Auckland, where they would have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Italian football federation president Gabriele Gravina will call for Euro 2020 to be postponed when he takes part in a meeting with fellow UEFA members on Tuesday.

Europe's biggest leagues and competitions, including UEFA's Champions League and Europa League, are on hold as governments and medical experts attempt to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, UEFA will hold a video conference with delegates from its 55 member nations to discuss how and when football will be able to proceed.

One option which has been mooted is to delay Euro 2020, either until later in the year or to 2021, to allow the domestic seasons to be completed.

Italy has been the worse-hit country in Europe by the virus, with the country on lockdown until at least April 3, and FIGC boss Gravina has confirmed he wants Euro 2020 to be postponed.

"We will try to reach the end of this [Serie A] season because it is fair and correct to have an outcome for the many efforts and sacrifices from our clubs," Gravina told Mediaset on Sunday.

"The hope is that this happens by June 30, without forgetting that in addition to Serie A there are other championships that must be resolved, and we must also include the Champions League and the Europa League. The deadline is June 30, eventually we will see if we have to go beyond."

Regarding European competition, Gravina said: "On Tuesday we will tackle this issue; the primary principle is the protection of health. Italy is currently two weeks ahead, the other [countries] probably do not yet know the exact size of things.

"We'll ask UEFA to postpone the playing of the European Championship."

Juventus lead the way by one point in Serie A, with Lazio in second, and both have 12 Serie A games remaining. Antonio Conte's Inter are nine points adrift of the leaders in third place, with a game in hand.

UEFA has postponed all Champions League and Europa League matches scheduled to take place next week due to the spread of COVID-19.

European football's governing body will stage a video conference on Tuesday, March 17, to discuss how its club competitions and Euro 2020 might proceed in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, it has opted for immediate action due to the rapidly developing situation, with UEFA Youth League matches and the proposed quarter-final draws for the Champions League and Europa League on March 20 also called off.

"In the light of developments due to the spread of COVID-19 in Europe and related decisions made by different governments, all UEFA club competitions matches scheduled next week are postponed," a statement from the organisation read.

"This includes the remaining UEFA Champions League round of 16 second-leg matches scheduled on 17 and 18 March 2020; all UEFA Europa League round of 16 second-leg matches scheduled on 19 March 2020; all UEFA Youth League quarter-final matches scheduled on 17 and 18 March 2020.

"Further decisions on when these matches take place will be communicated in due course.

"As a consequence of the postponements, the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League quarter-final draws scheduled for 20 March have also been postponed."

Next Tuesday's scheduled Manchester City v Real Madrid and Juventus v Lyon matches had already been postponed, following Madrid placing their squad in quarantine and Juve defender Daniele Rugani testing positive for coronavirus.

A City player, reported to be Benjamin Mendy, has since self-isolated as a precaution after a family member was hospitalised.

Of the remaining fixtures, Barcelona v Napoli was slated to take place behind closed doors, even though both LaLiga and Serie A are currently suspended, while Chelsea's capacity to play their return leg against Bayern Munich was thrown into huge doubt by Callum Hudson-Odoi's positive COVID-19 test.

Ligue 1 on Friday suspended operations until further notice, with the Premier League expected to follow France's top flight in announcing a hiatus of its own.

UEFA has postponed all Champions League and Europa League matches scheduled to take place next week due to the spread of COVID-19.

European football's governing body will stage a video conference on Tuesday, March 17, to discuss how its club competitions and Euro 2020 might proceed in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, it has opted for immediate action due to the rapidly developing situation, with UEFA Youth League matches and the proposed quarter-final draws for the Champions League and Europa League on March 20 also called off.

"In the light of developments due to the spread of COVID-19 in Europe and related decisions made by different governments, all UEFA club competitions matches scheduled next week are postponed," a statement from the organisation read.

"This includes the remaining UEFA Champions League round of 16 second-leg matches scheduled on 17 and 18 March 2020; all UEFA Europa League round of 16 second-leg matches scheduled on 19 March 2020; all UEFA Youth League quarter-final matches scheduled on 17 and 18 March 2020.

"Further decisions on when these matches take place will be communicated in due course.

"As a consequence of the postponements, the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League quarter-final draws scheduled for 20 March have also been postponed."

Next Tuesday's scheduled Manchester City v Real Madrid and Juventus v Lyon matches had already been postponed, following Madrid placing their squad in quarantine and Juve defender Daniele Rugani testing positive for coronavirus.

A City player, reported to be Benjamin Mendy, has since self-isolated as a precaution after a family member was hospitalised.

Of the remaining fixtures, Barcelona v Napoli was slated to take place behind closed doors, even though both LaLiga and Serie A are currently suspended, while Chelsea's capacity to play their return leg against Bayern Munich was thrown into huge doubt by Callum Hudson-Odoi's positive COVID-19 test.

Ligue 1 on Friday suspended operations until further notice, with the Premier League expected to follow France's top flight in announcing a hiatus of its own.

Substitute Leon Bailey scored late on as Bayer Leverkusen beat Rangers 3-1 at Ibrox in Thursday's Europa League last-16 first leg to take control of the tie.

Bundesliga side Leverkusen entered the match in fine form and made that count as they opened up a two-goal lead thanks to Kai Havertz and Charles Aranguiz.

Highly rated midfielder Havertz opened the scoring from a penalty that was contentiously awarded by referee Szymon Marciniak and Aranguiz fired in a second after 67 minutes.

But Rangers pulled one back through George Edmundson and were pushing for an equaliser when dealt a sucker punch by Bailey's fine finish two minutes from time.

Pedro Neto's deflected equaliser earned Wolves a 1-1 draw away to 10-man Olympiacos in the first leg of their last-16 Europa League tie.

After Ruben Semedo's first-half red card, Youssef El-Arabi put the hosts ahead in front at Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium, with Thursday's game being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak, Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis having tested positive.

In a pre-match interview with BT Sport, Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo said the decision to play the game was "absurd", and his side delivered a flat performance, though Neto's fortuitous strike earned a potentially decisive away goal.

UEFA is set to rule on whether the Europa League will be postponed amid the crisis, but the second leg is set for next week as it stands.

Giorgos Masouras clipped the crossbar with a poor early effort, but the offside flag was raised regardless, and Olympiacos were then reduced to 10 men in the 28th minute.

Wolves broke at pace down the left, and Semedo clumsily brought down Diogo Jota on the edge of the box, prompting referee Clement Turpin to show the red card.

Neto replaced Matt Doherty in an attacking half-time change for Wolves, but the 10 men took the lead in the 54th minute.

Guilherme jinked into the right side of the box and squared for El-Arabi to tap in his 19th goal of the season from close range.

Wolves levelled 13 minutes later, though, Neto's free-kick taking a huge deflection off Andreas Bouchalakis to beat Jose Sa, who earlier blocked a ferocious Raul Jimenez drive with his face.

Nuno sent on ex-Olympiacos star Daniel Podence in search of a late winner, but the tie remains finely poised.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has stated he expects Paul Pogba to be a Manchester United player next season.

Pogba has been restricted to just seven Premier League appearances this season, having been sidelined with an ankle injury since December.

However, the midfielder's absence has not been felt in recent weeks, with United extending their unbeaten run to 11 matches in all competitions with a 5-0 rout of LASK in the Europa League last 16 on Thursday.

Despite Pogba's continued injury issues and consistent speculation over his future, Solskjaer has reiterated the France star remains a United player.

And after the win over LASK, the Red Devils manager went further, insisting the former Juventus man will still be at Old Trafford in 2020-21.

"Paul's our player. He has two years left on his contract, a year plus the option of another," Solskjaer told reporters.

"You can expect Paul to be here [next season]."

With Pogba still working his way back to fitness, United put one foot firmly in the last eight of the Europa League with a comprehensive display behind closed doors in Linz.

Odion Ighalo, Daniel James, Juan Mata, Mason Greenwood and Andreas Pereira all got on the scoresheet in the big win, and Solskjaer was thrilled with the display.

"I think for the whole 90 minutes the team were excellent," he told BT Sport. "We made a few changes today and some of the players really grabbed their opportunity, put pressure on the ones that have been playing most of the minutes.

"It's fantastic, but we need to keep going. We’ve got a big game on Sunday – Tottenham – and that was part of the reason we made a couple of changes. Hopefully, we will be ready for that one."

Asked if he could keep players happy when out of the team, Solskjaer replied: "That is part of being at Manchester United. You don't play every game but you are happy at the end if you're winning trophies. It's not just about playing, it's about winning.

"It's about helping the team. If you play for 60, 70, 80 or 10 minutes, you should be proud and happy when you play."

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