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Day 3 of WFS Live: How football clubs secure partnerships outside their local geographies

This week I’ve been attending World Football Summit‘s second WFS Live event. Day 3 included a panel discussion on “How football clubs secure partnerships outside their local geographies”.

As a translator, this session was of particular interest to me, since translators play such a vital role in helping football clubs and leagues to reach new markets.

Matthieu Fenaert of Real Valladolid explained that, in the current economic climate, it was important to consolidate existing partnerships, rather than building new ones. Asked how international sponsors could be retained in these difficult times, he said that clubs needed partners, not sponsors, a view echoed by the other panellists.

On the topic of foreign investors, he said that they had to respect the history of their new club, noting the uproar among Cardiff City fans when Vincent Tan changed the club’s colours from blue to red – a decision eventually reversed due to fan pressure.

Marc Armstrong of Paris Saint-German said that clubs had had to adapt their sales methods due to travel restrictions. He said that, while on the one hand there was no replacement for face-to-face travel, perhaps it would not be necessary to travel so much in future.

He also spoke about the club’s shift from national sponsors to global partners. When I lived in Paris and attended games at the Parc des Princes, nearly all PSG’s sponsors were French brands, many of which operated solely in France. Fast forward 20 years, and the club’s partners are much more global, a deliberate strategy by the club.

Marc added that the club had created a lifestyle brand to stand out from other clubs. Other strategies had included establishing innovative partnerships, such as with Finnish mobile game development company Supercell, and putting key players in contact with the leading influencers in key markets. Creativity, flexibility and intelligence, said Marc, were necessary to find opportunities.

Casper Stylsvig talked about some of the innovations that AC Milan had introduced, reaching out to fans through music and entertainment. He noted that many big brands sponsored both music and sport. Since people today consume sports differently, clubs needed to change their narrative. By way of example, Casper Stylsvig referred to the virtual concert the club had organized the previous Friday, in collaboration with Roc Nation. Such events should be connected to the club’s image: last week’s concert featured many upcoming stars from the world of music, in keeping with a club that had one of the youngest teams in Europe.

I was particularly interested in hearing the thoughts of Andrew Hampel, since, like me, he provides clubs with skills and expertise that they do not have in house. For instance, moving to a new stadium is a once-in-a-lifetime event for most football clubs, but Legends International has already worked with several football clubs that have built a new ground. Like the other speakers, Andrew Hampel stressed the importance of partnership, rather than sponsorship, and said that, to engage in a sophisticated way, clubs needed to understand their partners’ businesses – which is where companies like Legends International come in to provide the necessary expertise.

Despite the current economic climate, football clubs – especially the heavyweight clubs – are looking to go ever more global. Although there is currently a major focus on new markets in the Asia Pacific region, which will require language consultants who work with major Asian languages like Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Thai, the English language is still going to be a vital part of club’s communication strategies, perhaps even more so than the local language in some cases.

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WFS Live Review

Used with permission by World Football Summit

This year I had been looking forward to attending one of the World Football Summit events, either in Madrid or in Durban. Sadly, like so many other events this year, COVID-19 stopped play before it even began, but the World Football Summit did a wonderful job at organizing an online event in their stead. Here are some of my thoughts about WFS Live, which took place online from 6-10 July.

One of the advantages of the event being online was that it attracted a more international audience, rather than the usual crowd from Europe and North America. There were many attendees from all over Africa and Asia. The speaker line-up was also impressive, no doubt helped by the fact that it was far easier for top speakers to fit an online event into their agendas than it would have been for them to fly perhaps half way around the world to attend an event in person.

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The true identity of Athletic Bilbao’s last Englishman is finally unearthed

Earlier this month, Spanish football historian Lartaun de Azumendi published a 43-Tweet-long thread to explain a remarkable discovery he had made about Martyn Veitch, the man usually cited as the last foreigner to play for Athletic Bilbao before they introduced their famous Basque-only policy.

His discovery quite literally changed the history books, as several days later, Athletic Bilbao updated its website to reflect Lartaun’s discovery. The thread was in Spanish, but as a professional translator specialising in sport, I’m always on the look out for interesting stories that would interest English readers, so I asked Lartaun if I could translate it.

Although I have published a version on Twitter, I recommend reading it on here, where I’m free from the shackles of the 280-character limit. Enjoy!

A 43-tweet research thread explaining why Athletic Bilbao never had a player called Martyn Veitch.

Who was Veitch? And what’s the story behind Athletic’s last foreign player before the club adopted its Basque-only policy in 1911? It’s a story we knew (almost) nothing about, until now.

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Yacht Racing Forum 2018, in Lorient

At the end of October, I attended the 2018 Yacht Racing Forum. Organised by Geneva-based MaxComm Communication, this year’s edition visited Lorient, in a part of Brittany that is marketed as the Bretagne Sailing Valley because of the huge impact that sailing has on the local economy (see the tweet below).

The Sailing Valley

Taking the forum to Lorient was an excellent decision, but taking it there just a fortnight before the start of the Route du Rhum was a master stroke. Thanks to the location and the timing, the organisers attracted dozens of the key players involved in the race, including a good number of the actual sailors. Continue reading

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CPD at sea!

As a translator who has now been specialising in sailing for over three years, I thought it was about time I spent some time out on the water myself, learning how to sail and seeing first-hand what all the terms I use mean, so I signed up to Good Hope Sailing Academy‘s Competent Crew course. We had some theory classes, but it was mainly a practical course, out on the water.

The first two days we didn’t get far out of the harbour, because the wind was too strong for us novices, so we spent quite a lot of time on the theory. On day 3, however, we sailed much further, and on day 4 we went right out to Robben Island. The experience has been thoroughly enjoyable, thanks in no small part to the other students and our excellent skipper/teacher Digby.

As you can see, the views of Table Mountain and the surrounding hills from the water are pretty awesome!

A brief moment to relax while heading back towards Cape Town on a starboard tack.

A brief moment to relax as we close-hauled back towards Cape Town on a starboard tack.

Terminology was an important part of the course, which is one of the reasons why I signed up. The terms we learned were related to the parts of the boat, the names and parts of the sails, the points of sail and manoeuvres, among others. Many of the terms were ones that I was already familiar with, having used them in my translations, but it was helpful to see those terms in practical use, and it was reassuring to hear the captain use certain terms and expressions in the same way that I had used them in my translations, confirming that I’d used good sources when researching terminology and collocations. For example, hearing the skipper say “Shake out the reef” provided welcome reassurance that I use the correct expression to refer to the removal of a reef (i.e. a fold) from the mainsail. I also learned dozens of new terms, such as cleats (fittings used to secure lines), stanchions (the vertical posts to which the guard rails are attached), clew (the corner of a sail between the foot and the leech, or back edge) and to pinch (to sail too close to the wind, as a result of which the sail begins to flap).

Translators will tell you that one of the causes of a poor translation is that the translator has not understood the text. Thanks to this Competent Crew course, I will better understand the texts I will be translating and will be more aware of how to use the terms and expressions in English. I also believe it will help me better engage with conference attendees when I attend sailing conferences, since I will be able to better understand the conversations between session and participate in them.

On day 3 I was feeling a little unwell, and at one point I actually felt like I didn’t want to ever sail again! But I caught the bug again on day 4, and perhaps at some point in the future I’ll sign up to the Day Captain course!

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Translation, a high-performance sport

This month, I finally got hold of my copy of La traduction, un sport de haut niveau (“Translation, a high-performance sport”), which is the title given to the June edition of Traduire, the journal published by the Société française des traducteurs. It was published way back in June 2016, but with moving house it got sent to my old address and I didn’t get hold of it until October this year.

It was the first time I had subscribed to the magazine, not because I was not interested, but because I wondered when I would find the time to read it. But edition 234 was dedicated to sports translations, a field in which I specialise, so I was looking forward to reading it.

There was a mixed bag of authors: some who focus only on one or two sports, some who translate other fields in addition to sport, and some who are translators who dedicate much of their free time to sport.

The pedalling translator

In Traduire à vélo, which I will liberally translate as “The pedalling translator”, Jonathan Hine (website, blog) begins by telling a short story. He then tells us about his life as a nomadic translator who travels around North America and Europe by bicycle. Interestingly, Jonathan says that his professional profile on the American Translators Association‘s website is by far his main source of new clients.

Jonathan discusses many of the difficulties encountered by nomadic translators. Whenever possible, he stays in accommodation with WiFi, though he can use his smartphone if all else fails. Given his nomadic lifestyle, it is surprising that he did not get his first smartphone until 2014. He does rent a small flat in Italy that he uses for storage or for receiving items in the post (though more often that not, he has parcels sent to friends or hotels). If Jonathan ever wants to cycle around Southern Africa, I could recommend a few routes in South Africa and Namibia! He ends his article with a list of pros and cons, which anyone considering becoming a nomadic translator would do well to read before taking the plunge.

Mourinho, the interpreter’s nightmare

In Le cauchemare des interprètes, or “The interpreter’s nightmare”, Laurent Laget (website) writes at length about the man we all love to hate, pantomime villain José Mourinho. Mourinho is known for speaking half a dozen languages, and according to Laget, “Mourinho learned Catalan” when working for FC Barcelona as Bobby Robson’s interpreter. However, like the late Johan Cruijff, despite learning to speak several other languages Mourinho has never been heard speaking Catalan in public. He certainly learned to understand Catalan, as evidenced by interviews in which the journalist asked him questions in Catalan and he responded in Spanish, but when he went to Real Madrid, he started refusing to answer questions posed to him in Catalan, saying he did not understand.

Laurent looks at some of the press conferences in which Mourinho has reacted to the intervention of the interpreter. In one instance, Mourinho protested after “we didn’t deserve to win” became “we deserved to win”! By contrast, on another occasion, Mourinho was so impressed by the efforts of a Romanian translator that he chirped: “Who pays this guy? His salary should be doubled!” Laurent also mentions that some of Mourinho’s opponents use “translator” as a taunt, as if to insult him. We should applaud how Mourinho responded on one occasion: “Don’t call me a translator because that would be an offence to every translator.” Laurent’s insightful article concludes with some thoughts on how learning a foreign language is beneficial to players’ integration. He concludes by saying that languages are a powerful tool for integration, which benefits a player’s well-being, and therefore his or her performance on the field.

Golf and concentration skills

In Golf et traduction : de la page blanche à la balle (literally “Golf and translation: from the blank page to the white ball”, but the French title works better as it uses the same word for “blank” and “white”!), Céline Graciet (website) talks about how she enjoys playing golf and draws parallels between golf and translation. According to Céline, the concentration skills she uses on the fairways and greens (and perhaps occasionally in the rough or the bunkers!) are extremely helpful when she is sat at her desk, and she says that playing golf makes her more productive. Recently, Céline is delighted to have been regularly translating documents for a new golf club.

The power of corpora

Over the page I found a very familiar name: that of Simon Berrill (website, blog). I skipped past L’art du cliché, not because I wasn’t interested in what Simon had to say, but because I’d already read The right clichés — the original from which this French text was translated — on Simon’s blog. Simon mentions the abundance of clichés in sports writing and how using corpora can help translators working on a text about a sport with which they are less familiar. He suggests building corpora using WebBootCat and analysing it using one of my favourite tools, AntConc.

Terminology on track

Next up, Taffy Martin discusses cross-border athletics in L’athlétisme à travers les frontières. She focuses mainly on the differences between how athletes spend their formative years in France and in the United States, but I think the most interesting part is where she looks at athletics terminology. Taffy notes that certain event names in English have evolved to reflect international usage (a precursor to euro-English in the EU institutions?), such as broad jump and hop, step and jump becoming long jump and triple jump, respectively, as a result of which the French event names are transparent to English readers. Continue reading

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Attending the right client events

A call out of the blue

Two and a half years ago I received a phone call out of the blue to discuss long-term collaboration translating material for Spindrift racing, a sailing team run by Yann Guichard and Dona Bertarelli. I’ve always been passionate about sport, so this was a dream offer for me.

Exciting projects awaited. A year earlier, the team had bought a record-breaking boat called Maxi Banque Populaire V, and would soon attempt to set a new transatlantic record on her, after rebaptising her Spindrift 2. A year later, having already won the famous Route du Rhum race from Saint-Malo to Guadeloupe, they would embark on an even more exciting challenge: attempting to win the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest ever circumnavigation of the world.

Spindrift racing contacted me after finding my website while searching for a specialist sports translator. I was over the moon. It felt like all the hard work I’d put into rebranding myself and marketing myself as a sports specialist had finally paid off!

My contact asked me to do a 600-word test translation, which she happily reduced to around 300 words when I said that 600 was more than I was willing to do for free. I know some translators get very upset at requests for translation tests, but I’d have been mad to turn down a dream offer like this based on a request that would take me no more than two hours to fulfil, especially for a potential client interested more in my expertise than in my rates.

I sent off the test, and my client agreed to work with me at my proposed rates.

A steep learning-curve

The translations were quite tough going at first, and at times it felt like I was sailing into a headwind. In the past, I’ve managed to apply my knowledge of the sports that I follow to sports with which I’m not familiar. For instance, while covering the World Handball Championships many years ago, I would use many of the same turns of phrase that I might use if reporting on a football match. I basically just had to learn a few new terms, such as names of positions. Sailing, however, was a whole new kettle of fish, with a language all of its own.

I already knew that boats have a starboard and a port side, rather than left and right. I also knew that a boat is always a she, never an it, though it’s easy to forget this when you’re translating from French, since you’re so accustomed to translating the masculine pronoun il as it when referring to an inanimate object. (I can’t think of any other contexts where il would be translated as she!) Many other terms, however, were new to me, so the learning-curve was steep. I’ll discuss some of the specialist vocabulary in a future post.

Over time I became more familiar with sailing-specific vocabulary and expressions, whether referring to parts of the boat, types of sails, directions on the boat, or manoeuvres, and I no longer spent so long doing research while translating. I therefore decided to start marketing myself not only as a sports specialist, but specifically as a sailing specialist too.

In search of other clients

I also began to attend boat shows, looking for potential clients to whom I could sell my newly acquired expertise. The entry fees for boat shows are pretty cheap, and I could fly from Barcelona to the venues for less than €70 return. For the Geneva show, I flew to Switzerland in the morning and returned to Barcelona in the evening, all for around €50. The biggest investment was therefore the office hours lost.

Unfortunately my efforts did not bear tangible fruit, as I failed to secure any new clients in the sector. The main reason, I believe, was that I was not meeting the people who actually handle translations. Besides, the boat shows had a strong focus on the leisure side of yachting, rather than solely on yacht racing.

The Yacht Racing Forum

It would have been easy to give up at that point and not bother attending any other sailing events. But then I heard about the Yacht Racing Forum, held this year in Malta. Not the cheapest or easiest place to get to, especially from where I was now living, and the delegates’ fee was far more expensive than entry to a boat show. But I couldn’t resist the opportunity to go to an event that would be attended by those involved in yacht racing, from boat owners and sailors to communications managers and magazine editors. More about the content of the Forum will follow in a future post.

My persistence paid off. I’ve not landed any new projects yet (it only ended a few days ago), but I’ve learnt an awful lot about sailing, how the industry works, and which people purchase translation services. I can now adopt a more targeted approach to pitching, and I’m expecting to receive a few phone calls or e-mails from people who asked me for my card as soon as I told them what I did. Delegates I spoke to were particularly impressed by the fact that I specialise in sailing, with one woman from a communications company lamenting some of the awful translations she has received from translators who know nothing about sailing.

Persevere, and target the right events

As mentioned above, I’ve attended many client events that have borne no fruit in terms of new clients. Perhaps the same is true for you. However, I’d encourage you to persevere, because the types of clients you find at such events often provide regular work at good rates, so when you eventually do acquire a new client, the investment will pay off.

I would, however, recommend trying to target the events you attend carefully. Try to see who will be attending, and aim to go to those where you’re likely to meet purchasers of translation services.

To give an example from my other specialist field, macroeconomics, two years ago I found out about the International Conference on Economic, Business, Financial and Institutional Translation. I wasn’t too keen on going, due to money I felt like I’d wasted on previous events. However, when I saw that people from the translation departments of international financial institutions (IFIs) would be there, I decided to attend. It was an excellent decision. I spoke to the head of an IFI translation department, told her about the extensive work I’d already done for the OECD, and as a result of that conversation I’ve earned a five-figure sum from that client!

So keep attending events, but target the ones where you’ll meet translation purchasers.

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Olympic vocabulary in English, French, Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese

Anglo Premier specialises in sports translations. More information at www.anglopremier.com/sport.

There are some excellent online resources for vocabulary related to the Olympic Games in English, French, Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese.

For French and English, the France’s National Institute for Sport, Expertise and Performance produced an excellent glossary for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

The Fundación del Español Urgente has produced an excellent guide for journalists, the main focus being to avoid the unnecessary use of English terms.

Termcat produced a large glossary when Barcelona hosted the 1992 Games, and has continued to develop the glossary ever since. Its Diccionari de l’Esport includes terminology in English, French, Spanish and Catalan for all the Olympic disciplines, as well as for many non-Olympic sports.

Finally, for those who work with Portuguese, the Grupo de Pesquisa em Estudos Olímpicos has produced an English-Portuguese glossary for the Games in Rio de Janeiro, available here.

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Route du Rhum réussie pour Anglo Premier et Spindrift racing

Anglo Premier Translations collabore avec Spindrift racing depuis le mois de juin 2014. Le plus gros défi a eu lieu au mois de septembre. Ou plutôt “les” défis. Car si traverser l’Atlantique en solitaire dans un maxi-trimaran est un challenge de premier ordre, il l’est aussi être disponible 24 heures par jour pendant une semaine pour traduire toutes les dernières informations du français à l’anglais.

Pari réussi pour les deux! Car si Spindrift racing a fait une magnifique course, en terminant 2ème sur la Route du Rhum, Anglo Premier Translations, lui aussi, a été à la hauteur, avec la réactivité qui est nécessaire dans cette époque où tout le monde veut avoir un accès instantané aux dernières informations dans sa propre langue.

Pendant plus d’une semaine, Anglo Premier Translations a traduit toutes les informations – reportages et vidéos – publiées sur le site web de Spindrift racing. Au total, plus de 11.000 mots traduits dans des très courts délais au long des 8 jours de course.

Le bilan a été très positif. Virginie Bouchet, responsable de communication et presse de Spindrift racing, a tenu à remercier Timothy Barton, d’Anglo Premier Translations :

« Un grand merci pour votre travail, votre flexibilité et votre réactivité, qualités indispensables pour travailler dans le milieu de la voile, où l’on dépend que de la météo. Ça a été un super travail d’équipe et chaque individualité a contribué à cette réussite générale. Nous avons eu beaucoup de retombées médias et une belle exposition générale. »

Nous attendons avec hâte la prochaine course de Spindrift racing pour pouvoir répéter ce partenariat.

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Football, fútbol, futbol, calcio II: terminology

In Part I of this series I discussed the expression the beautiful game used to refer to association football (which I will simply call football in the rest of this post). In this part I will look at the terminology mentioned by Joseph Lambert in his own blog post, The Terminology of the Beautiful Game.

The first half of the following table shows the terminology mentioned by Joseph Lambert in English, French and Italian, to which I have included the equivalents in Spanish and Catalan and English definitions.

Entries marked with an asterisk are not specific terms, but are ordinary words that could be used to describe the same situation.

The second half of the table contains additional interesting terms, and are discussed further below.

FrenchItalianSpanishCatalanEnglishDefinition
petit ponttunneltúneltúnelnutmegWhen the ball is played between the legs of an opposing player.
caviar*peach, *gemAn exceptionally good pass.
doppietadobletedobletbrace, double, pairTwo goals by the same player.
coup du chapeautriplettahat-trick, tripletehat-trick, triplethat-trickThree goals by the same player.
pokerpókerpòkerFour goals by the same player.
pokerissimo, manitamanitamaneta*score five, *thrashing, *thrash, *cricket score, *trounceFive goals, but not necessarily by the same player.
but [goal]golgolgolgoalIf you don't know what a goal is you probably won't be interested in this article!
cornercorner, calcio d'angolocórnercórnercornerDitto!
córner olímpicocórner olímpic*goal (straight/directly) from a corner, *score (straight/directly) from a cornerWhen the ball goes straight into the goal from a corner, without touching another player (except perhaps a small touch by a goalkeeper).
arbitrereferí, árbitroàrbitre/arefereeThe main official in charge of a match.
vuelta olímpicalap of honourWhen players walk around the edge of the pitch, celebrating in front of their fans.
cucchiaio, pallonettovaselinavaselinachipA short, high kick going over the head of an opposing player or over the arms of the opposing goalkeeper. Also used as a verb.
grand pont*autopase*autopase*beat, *go (a)roundWhen a player knocks the ball past an opponent on one side and runs around the other side of him or her.
lucarneescuadraescairetop cornerThe area just inside where the crossbar and post meet on the goalposts.
prolongationprórrogapròrrogaextra-timeAn additional 30 minutes of play in knockout matches when the scores are level at the end of ordinary time.
temps additionnelprolongación, descuento, tiempo añadidoprolongació, descompte, temps afegitinjury time, stoppage time, time added onAdditional time added by the referee to compensate for time lost due to injuries, substitutions or time-wasting.

Joseph’s article does not offer a translation of manita. I believe there is no specific term in English. We would either say that a team scored five or use an expression that refers to the fact that a team were well beaten, such as the verbs thrash or trounce. The expression cricket score is often used when a team is banging in the goals. A commentator might say ‘At one stage Arsenal looked like they might make it a cricket score‘. For those unfamiliar with cricket, this is an exaggeration. Even the lowest innings score ever in first-class cricket is 26, but normally a cricket score would be in excess of 150.

An interesting term in Spanish (and Catalan) is córner olímpico, literally an ‘Olympic corner’. In English we have no such term, so we’d just have to say that a player ‘scored straight from a corner’. According to Nicolás Alejandro Cunto’s blog, the term was coined when Argentina scored such a goal against Uruguay in 1924. The Uruguayan team had recently won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Paris, where they celebrated with a lap of honour, which in Spanish was dubbed a vuelta olímpica – an Olympic lap or tour – a term still used in Spanish – and in Catalan – to this day.

The same article by Nicolás Alejandro Cunto illustrates the much higher proportion of words borrowed from English in Latin American Spanish than in Spanish Spanish. He uses referí (referee) rather than árbitro and wing (winger) rather than lateral.

Another curious Spanish term is vaselina, literally meaning ‘Vaseline’, to refer to what in English we call a chip. In English the word chip is often used as a verb rather than a noun, so ‘marcó con una vaselina’ might become ‘chipped the ball (over the goalkeeper’s head and) into the net’.

Joseph’s article mentions petit pont (small bridge), the French term for a nutmeg. French football parlance also has the grand pont (big bridge), which is when an attacking player knocks the ball past a defender on one side and then runs around the other side of the defender. (If you’re confused by this explanation, watch this exquisite ‘grand pont’ and goal by an 8-year-old called Adam, and if you’re not confused, watch it anyway!) There is no term as precise as this in English. Although a translator could describe the action precisely by explaining the manoeuvre in detail, this is a good example of where it is better to let some information become lost in translation in the interest of maintaining good style (e.g. ‘Ronaldo beat Johnson on the right flank before unleashing a cross to the far post…’).

French refers to the top corner as the lucarne (skylight); Spanish and Catalan use escuadra and escaire respectively, both meaning ‘right angle’. The closer the ball is to the junction between the crossbar and the upright, the more likely a French writer or commentator is to say en pleine lucarne (‘right in the top corner’, or ‘in the very top corner’).

Finally, translators working between French and Spanish or French and Catalan should watch out for a false friend when referring to extra time and injury time (see the table for other synonyms). Extra time is called la prolongation in French, but in Spanish and Catalan prolongación and prolongació mean injury time; extra time is called prórroga and pròrroga respectively.

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