PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv
PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv (Bulgarian: ПФК Локомотив Пловдив) is a Bulgarian professional association football club, based in Plovdiv, that competes in the country's primary football competition, the First League. Lokomotiv's home ground is Stadion Lokomotiv which is situated in Lauta Park, in the south of the city, and has a capacity of 10,000 spectators.
|Full name||Професионален футболен клуб Локомотив Пловдив|
Professional Football Club Lokomotiv Plovdiv
|Nickname(s)||Железничарите (The Railwaymen)|
Смърфовете (The Smurfs)
|Founded||25 July 1926|
|Head coach||Aleksandar Tunchev|
|2020–21||First League, 2nd|
Established in 1926, in the 2003-04 season of the A Group, Lokomotiv became the Champions of Bulgaria, finishing the season with three points more than the second-ranked Levski Sofia. Lokomotiv Plovdiv have also won the Bulgarian Supercup twice, in 2004 and 2020, one Cup of the Soviet Army in 1983 and most recently two consecutive Bulgarian Cups in 2019 and 2020. The club's biggest success in Europe to date is reaching the third round of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1965, after narrowly losing to the Italian Juventus in a play-off match.
Throughout the club's history, it has undergone a number of complex reorganisations. These were in part due to the political environment in Bulgaria during the communist period (1944-1989) which led to enforced changes in the nature of sporting clubs throughout the country in order to follow the "Soviet model". For PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv, these changes led to the merger of two separate existing teams, different in nature, which in turn has led to misinterpretations of the history of the teams. In order to understand the origin of the contemporary team, Lokomotiv's history can be divided into two major branches – one defined largely by its followers (Sportclub Plovdiv), and the other by its functional characteristics, association with the railway, and funding as a labour union team (ZSK Plovdiv).
Roots of the Club (until 1944)Edit
In the spring of 1922, the sport club Karadzha was founded when several casual amateur football teams in one of the districts of Plovdiv consolidated so the players could compete in the Championship of Plovdiv. Two years later, in 1924, another sport club called Atletik was formed in the same district.
On 26 July 1926 Karadzha and Atletik merged to form Sportclub. The team chose white, black and red as the colours for their kits and crest. Several years later, the year of establishment (1926) was added to the crest. Lokomotiv Plovdiv still uses the same colours, while their full name (Professional Football Club Lokomotiv 1926 Plovdiv) shows the club's beginnings as the same year in which Sportclub was founded.
Sportclub had its home ground in the city centre. However, after the 1928 earthquakes, the team donated its land to those who had lost their homes so they could rebuild there. From 1928 on, Sportclub did not have their own football field for more than two decades.
In the years after Sportclub was created, the team competed in the local Championship of Plovdiv. In the early years of Bulgarian football, there was no national league. The local championships, held at a regional level, were the most prestigious football tournaments in the country. Sportclub participated in the second division until 1933, when the team finished first and was promoted to Plovdiv's top tier as of 1934. In 1936, Sportclub became the Champion of Plovdiv for the first time.
In 1938 the team joined the National Football Division – the countrywide football league which had been formed only a year earlier and which included Bulgaria's top ten teams. However, in 1940 the league was disbanded because of World War II. By that time the club had officially changed its name to Plovdivski Sportclub (Sportclub of Plovdiv), primarily because several other teams in the league also had Sportclub in their names.
During World War II, the team participated in several other tournaments including the Tsar's Cup, which was considered Bulgaria's most prestigious knock-out cup tournament at the time and a predecessor of the current domestic cup tournament. In the Tsar's Cup the team reached the finals twice – in 1940 and 1942.
By the time of communist rule in Bulgaria in 1944, Sportclub had become one of the best performing teams in the country, reaching the finals in many tournaments. The club had become the biggest in the Plovdiv region in terms of members and continually set attendance records for the period.
The Club of the Railway Workers in PlovdivEdit
In the mid-1930s, the railway workers' and sailors' labour union established numerous cultural and sporting organisations across the country. The railway workers established a sports club in Plovdiv as well, since the city is one of the major railway centres in the country. On 13 June 1935 the club ZSK Plovdiv was founded, abbreviated from Zheleznicharski Sporten Klub Plovdiv (The sporting club of the railway workers in Plovdiv).
For the first few years, ZSK Plovdiv lagged behind other teams in the city such as Sportclub and Botev Plovdiv. The team was not recognized as a full member of the national sport federation until three years after its creation. However, by the early 1940s they had improved and in 1944 they won the Championship of Plovdiv.
From an economic perspective, the railway club contributed heavily to the development of sports in the region, making large investments in the improvement of sporting facilities and conditions in the city. Most notably, the powerful national railway company, through ZSK Plovdiv, was the main benefactor for the creation of a state-of-the-art multi-purpose stadium that opened in 1943. The stadium was constructed on the football pitch of the existing team Levski Plovdiv and as such was the home ground for both ZSK Plovdiv and Levski Plovdiv. As a result, the stadium was named ZSK-Levski.
Creation of Lokomotiv Plovdiv (1944–1955)Edit
Changes in SportclubEdit
In the years after 1944, the newly established communist rule embarked on several campaigns for the "reorganisation of the sporting clubs in Bulgaria" to make them align with the Soviet political agenda and follow the "Soviet model" of sport clubs. This meant that every local region should have its own sports club, but in order to make central investments more efficient for a larger member-base, only a few clubs were permitted per area. The led to the forced merger of clubs within the same locality.
Starting in 1944 Sportclub was merged with numerous other teams in the same district of Plovdiv. Being from an area with a diverse ethnic and religious population, the club was first merged with several lower-division so-called Armenian teams, such as Shant and Erevan. Another merger followed in 1945 with the Catholic club Parchevich. After this wave of mergers, like many other clubs in the country, the club was renamed to an abbreviation of the biggest clubs – S.P.-45, meaning Sportclub Parchevich – 1945. However, due to the non-Slavic background of the words "sport" and "club", the team was officially renamed again before the start of the season to Slavia Plovdiv.
In 1947 a new wave of consolidations saw Slavia Plovdiv merged with the cooperative workers' union team, Petar Chengelov. This merger created a club known as Slavia-Chengelov.
During 1944–1955, the club reached the domestic knock-out cup finals (at the time the Cup of the Soviet Army) for the third time in its history – in 1948 as Slavia-Chengelov.
Through the mergers, the club originally named Sportclub kept its original colours and core team, with only a small number of players considered good enough to find a place in the first team of the "new" club. The supporters remained loyal to the colours and the players, and the followers of the assimilated clubs joined them, increasing the number of fans and members of the largest club in Plovdiv at that time. Though technically the numerous clubs merged, because of the sheer size of Sportclub in terms of members, the smaller clubs were effectively assimilated into the larger club.
Changes in ZSKEdit
For ZSK Plovdiv, reorganisation began in the autumn of 1944. The club was initially merged with the team with which it shared a stadium, Levski Plovdiv, to form ZSK-Levski. However, unlike most other forced mergers at that time, the ZSK-Levski merger was dissolved in less than a year.
After the separation in 1945, ZSK was renamed to Lokomotiv Plovdiv similar to other teams in various Eastern bloc countries which were connected with the railways. Lokomotiv Plovdiv and Levski continued to co-exist as separate entities, still sharing the same stadium.
Although railway workers' club was financially backed by the national railway, in the early years of communist rule the football team competed only at the third level of the recently formed national league. Furthermore, the club was the smallest in Plovdiv in terms of members and attracted only a modest number of spectators for its games, despite its large, state-of-the-art stadium.
Merger of Slaviya-Chengelov and Lokomotiv PlovdivEdit
In the summer of 1949, the Bulgarian Communist Party adopted a new principle governing the construction of sports clubs. Clubs had to serve primarily as physical fitness departments of politically important national enterprises, such as oil refineries, police, army, national railway, and others. Thus, the geographical location of a club was no longer important and clubs were assigned to the major institutions in the country.
The reorganisation of 1949 assigned Lokomotiv to assimilate Slavia-Chengelov, since Lokomotiv was already a team strongly associated with a significant national enterprise. By that time, Slavia-Chengelov was the largest club in Bulgaria in terms of members, and with an even larger fan base. Hence, the situation arose that the smallest club in Plovdiv, Lokomotiv, assimilated one of the biggest and most popular teams in the entire country.
DSO Energiya was formed from this merger prior to the start of the 1950 season. They used Slaviya-Chengelov's colours (white, red, and black) for both their kits and crest and the team itself retained only four players from Lokomotiv, with the core of the squad being players from Slaviya-Chengelov. More than two decades after the 1928 earthquake, the fans of what was once Sportclub again had a home ground – the stadium of Lokomotiv. Changes in the formal names of clubs in the Soviet Union took place and a popular name for Eastern bloc sports clubs at the time, Torpedo, was adopted and the team was thus renamed Torpedo Plovdiv.
For the 1950 season, Torpedo Plovdiv took the place of Slavia-Chengelov at the top level of the Bulgarian football league system (A RFG). National policy then required that, as part of the railway union, all club members and players had to be members of the union. This included former members of Slavia-Chengelov, who had no connection to the railways.
Before the 1951 season began, the railway union established a new club, DSO Lokomotiv (Plovdiv), which shared Torpedo's colours and stadium. Torpedo's players were transferred to DSO Lokomotiv, and in order to make them official union members each player was nominally employed by the national railways. Meanwhile, Torpedo Plovdiv was removed from the labour union and no longer funded by it or the railway company. DSO Lokomotiv also acquired Torpedo's license to play in the top tier of the Bulgarian football league, while Torpedo was relegated to the third division. The labour union thus effectively legitimised the new club without needing to limit the access of the members of Torpedo to the sports facilities. Existing members of Torpedo could still use the shared facilities and were no longer required to be members of the railway union.
As of 1951 the fans of Torpedo Plovdiv from 1950 now found themselves supporting the same players, with the same colours, in the same stadium, under a new name. As official membership in the club now required a job with the railways, the official number of members was drastically smaller than in previous years. Nevertheless, the supporters of the team remained the same. Hence, in 1951 DSO Lokomotiv effectively became the successor to Torpedo while Torpedo still competed at a lower level.
From 1951-1954 DSO Lokomotiv was one of the best performers in the Bulgarian football elite, annually reaching at least the quarter-final phase of the domestic cup competition (at that time the Cup of the Soviet Army) and regularly finishing high in the top division league.
First Relegation from the Elite (1955–1960)Edit
In 1955 DSO Lokomotiv's playing squad changed entirely – many aging key players were transferred to other teams, but their replacements seemed to be unable to collaborate and were not of the same quality. At the end of the 1955 season DSO Lokomotiv were relegated to the second division.
DSO Lokomotiv played in the second division for five seasons until it returned to the elite level for season 1961–62. In the same year, the team reached the domestic cup finals for the fourth time (after 1940 and 1942 as Sportclub, and 1948 as Slaviya-Chengelov), but again lost.
In 1957 another sport reorganisation occurred and clubs were no longer required to be affiliated with national enterprises; instead, teams returned to geographical regions. Thus, sport clubs no longer needed to be "DSO" (English: "voluntary sports organisation"). Consequently, DSO Lokomotiv assimilated Torpedo Plovdiv and Septemvri (Plovdiv), changing its name to Lokomotiv Plovdiv, which it has retained to this day.
Success Home and Abroad (1960–1985)Edit
After rejoining the elite (A RFG) in 1961, it took Lokomotiv seven years to reach the top three and get a medal in the 1968-69 season.
Internationally, the team achieved success more quickly. In the 1964–65 season, Lokomotiv Plovdiv reached the third round of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, where after two draws with the Italian team Juventus, a third play-off match was chosen by UEFA to be played in Torino. The game ended with a narrow loss by Lokomotiv with a score of 2:1.
Before reaching the third round, Lokomotiv had previously eliminated the Serbian FK Vojvodina and the Romanian FC Petrolul Ploieşti. Key players during this period include forward Gocho Vasilev, star midfielder Hristo Bonev, defender Ivan Boyadzhiev and goalkeeper Stancho Bonchev.
In 1973, Lokomotiv won the A RFG silver medals, finishing the season with 43 points. In 1974, Lokomotiv finished the season in third place receiving the league bronze. The team was quite stable over the next few years and rarely under 6th place in the league table. Among the team's players was Hristo Bonev – considered by most Lokomotiv fans as the greatest player and one of the greatest Bulgarian-born players.
In the 1979-80 season Lokomotiv Plovdiv was again relegated to Bulgaria's second football division, but took three seasons to earn back its place.
While being in second division between 1981 and 1983, the team reached the finals in the Cup of the Soviet Army twice. In 1982 the team lost the domestic cup for the sixth time. In 1983, led by Hristo Bonev, Lokomotiv won their first national cup by beating FC Chirpan 3:1 at Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia on 1 June. (The Cup of the Soviet Army, held annually between 1946 and 1990, is recognised by the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) as the primary domestic knock-out cup tournament until 1982.) In 1981, the Bulgarian Cup began to be held every year and overtook the significance of the Cup of the Soviet Army. BFU's current official policy considers the Bulgarian Cup to be the primary domestic knock-out cup from 1983 onwards. Thus Lokomotiv Plovdiv is not officially recognised as the bearer of the domestic cup for 1983.
In 1982 the team acquired Lokomotiv Stadium, situated in Lauta Park near the city's newest district. It is part of a multi-sports complex also used by the club's other sports teams (such as volleyball, tennis and boxing). In the 1983-84 season, the team was again relegated to second level and played the 1984-85 season at that level. In 1985 it rejoined A RFG.
After its return to the top division in 1985 the team had a consistent performance for over a decade, placing itself in the middle of the league table until the late 1990s. During that time the team finished in the top three once, in the 1991-92 season. In the 1998–99 and 1999-00 seasons Lokomotiv Plovdiv played in B PFG.
Georgi Iliev Years (2000-2004)Edit
In 2001 the club was purchased by Georgi Iliev, who at the time owned another football club, Velbazhd Kyustendil. It finished in third place in the top division for three consecutive seasons until 2000-01 and was national cup runner-up in 2001.
During the 2001-02 season, Iliev merged the two teams creating the contemporary Lokomotiv Plovdiv (Professional Football Club Lokomotiv 1926 Plovdiv). The new club is the official successor of the Lokomotiv club that merged with Velbazhd and uses the same colours. The team was formed almost entirely from the high-ranking players from Velbazhd Kyustendil's later years. The team finished third at the end of the season.
The most successful season in the club's history was the 2003-04 campaign. Lokomotiv won the title, the only one in the club's history so far. Coach and former player Eduard Eranosyan started 2003-04 well, with Lokomotiv leading the league by six points halfway through the season and remaining unbeaten. In the penultimate 29th round, the team defeated Slavia Sofia in Plovdiv by 3:2 in front of more than 17,000 spectators and won the Bulgarian championship. Lokomotiv finished the season with 75 points, 3 more than the second team, Levski Sofia. In the team lines was recent acquisition Martin Kamburov who became the goal scorer in Bulgaria with 26 goals. Key players during the season included Vasil Kamburov, Georgi Iliev, Aleksandar Tunchev, Kiril Kotev, Vladimir Ivanov, Metodi Stoynev and Macedonians Boban Jančevski, Vančo Trajanov and Robert Petrov.
Recent history (2004–present)Edit
In 2004-05 the team finished third in the A PFG and qualified for the UEFA Cup. In the European club competition, Lokomotiv defeated Serbian OFK Beograd in the second qualifying round (1:0 home win and 1:2 away loss) and were drawn to play against the English Bolton Wanderers in the first round. However, the team from Plovdiv was eliminated after a 1–2 loss at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton and another 1–2 loss in a match played at the Lazur Stadium in Burgas.
In the next few months the club had significant financial problems causing many of the champions' team players such as Aleksandar Tunchev, Martin Kamburov, Ivan Paskov, Georgi Iliev, Darko Spalević, Kiril Kotev and Boban Jančevski to leave.
In the 2005-06 season Lokomotiv finished 5th in A PFG and qualified for the Intertoto Cup. They were eliminated with a 2-3 (1-2 away loss and a 1-1 home draw) on aggregate by Romanian Farul Constanţa.
In the next three seasons, the team finished in the middle of the table. In December 2009, businessman and ex-Vihren Sandanski owner Konstantin Dinev acquired the club from Galina Topalova in a 2 million euro bid, with the intention to bring them back to European club competition.
On 15 May 2019, Lokomotiv Plovdiv won the Bulgarian Cup for the first time in the club's history, with a 1-0 win over local rivals Botev Plovdiv in Sofia. This enabled the team to play in the Europa League second qualifying round for the 2019-20 season. In the second round, Lokomotiv faced FC Spartak Trnava from Slovakia. Lokomotiv won the tie on aggregate, with a score of 3-3, progressing to the next round via the away goals rule. The next round's opponent was Strasbourg. Lokomotiv entered as outsiders against the French side, and lost the first game 0-1 in Bulgaria. In the second match, the Railroaders again lost with a minimum score of 1-0, being eliminated on aggregate 0-2.
In the 2019-20 season the team won the Bulgarian Cup for a second consecutive time, becoming the first team since to win consecutive cups after PFC Litex Lovech in 2008 and 2009. In the final, the Railroaders beat CSKA Sofia after a penalty shootout. Lokomotiv also qualified for the Championship Round and maintained their status in the top three until the very last rounds.
Crest and colorsEdit
The configuration of the crest consists of a shield colored in red and black and a golden letter 'L' (Bulgarian: Л) placed in the center. A white stripe with the inscription 'Plovdiv' is positioned on the upper part of the shield. The wings at the bottom of the shield represent the historical bond between the football club and the national railway company.
Lokomotiv Plovdiv's traditional home colors are white, black and red. In the past the club has also adopted sky blue as a kit color.
- Winners (1): 2003–04
- Runners-up (2): 1972–73, 2020–21
- Third place (4): 1968–69, 1973–74, 1991–92, 2004–05
- Winners (1): 1983
As of 21 July 2021[update]
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Up to three non-EU nationals can be registered and given a squad number for the first team in the First League. Those non-EU nationals with European ancestry can claim citizenship from the nation their ancestors came from. If a player does not have European ancestry he can claim Bulgarian citizenship after playing in Bulgaria for 5 years.
EU Nationals (Dual citizenship)
- As of 29 July 2021
|UEFA Champions League||2||0||0||2||0||6||−6||0.00|
|UEFA Cup / UEFA Europa League||27||8||2||17||36||56||−20||29.63|
|UEFA Europa Conference League||2||1||0||1||1||1||+0||50.00|
|UEFA Intertoto Cup||2||0||1||1||2||3||−1||0.00|
- As of 29 July 2021
|1965–66||Fairs Cup||1Q||Vojvodina||1–1||1–1||2–0 (Playoff)|
|1971–72||UEFA Cup||1Q||Carl Zeiss||3–1||0–3||3–4|
|1973–74||UEFA Cup||1Q||Sliema Wanderers||1–0||2–0||3–0|
|1974–75||UEFA Cup||1Q||Győri ETO||3–1||1–3||4–4 (p)|
|1976–77||UEFA Cup||1Q||Crvena Zvezda||2–1||1–4||3–5|
|2004–05||UEFA Champions League||2Q||Brugge||0–4||0–2||0–6|
|2005–06||UEFA Cup||2Q||OFK Beograd||1–0||1–2||2–2 (a)|
|2006||UEFA Intertoto Cup||2Q||Farul Constanța||1–1||1–2||2–3|
|2012–13||UEFA Europa League||2Q||Vitesse||4–4||1–3||5–7|
|2019–20||UEFA Europa League||2Q||Spartak Trnava||2–0||1–3||3–3 (a)|
|2020–21||UEFA Europa League||1Q||Iskra||N/A||1–0||1–0|
|2021–22||UEFA Europa Conference League||2Q||Slovácko||1–0||0–1||1–1 (3–2 p)|
- 1Q: First qualifying round
- 2Q: Second qualifying round
- 3Q: Third qualifying round
- PO: Play-off round
Rivalries and FriendshipsEdit
Lokomotiv's main rival is the popular neighbouring club of Botev Plovdiv, forming the Plovdiv derby. Traditionally, Lokomotiv drew support from the lower working classes whereas Botev drew support from the middle and upper communist classes.
Another rivalry is with CSKA Sofia, firstly due to the historical competition between the cities of Plovdiv and Sofia as cultural, political and economical centres, and secondly because of CSKA's association with the Bulgarian Army.
The team maintains a friendly rivalry with Lokomotiv Sofia due to their historical positions as the railway workers' teams of their respective cities. Matches between the teams are often called The Railroaders' Derby. However, the teams were never direct competitors for the title and supporters never had major confrontations, hence the derby is rather friendly.
Lokomotiv fans have a long-standing friendship with fans of the Italian team SSC Napoli due to their creation of the name Napoletani Ultras Plovdiv.
Since its foundation, Lokomotiv has been one of the best supported football clubs in Bulgaria. Its fans broke attendance records on numerous occasions in the early years  despite hardships (the team did not have a home ground for more than 20 years after the 1928 earthquake). By the 1940s the club was one of the largest in the country in terms of officially registered members. In 1968 its supporters established the amateur football club Friends of Lokomotiv Plovdiv as a means of organised support, and in 1988 the official fan club – Club of the Supporters of Lokomotiv Plovdiv – was established as the first of its kind in Bulgaria. The political environment of the time was unfavourable towards independently formed organisations. In recent years, fans have organised an amateur football tournament called Liga Lauta, the proceedings of which go to the club's youth academy. Organisers intend to extend the initiative to an annual tournament.
In the 1980s the club was extremely popular and had the biggest away invasions, including 20,000 people at the final of the 1983 Soviet Cup. The club also holds record attendance for a championship home game in Plovdiv - 50,000 people versus Beroe. When Lokomotiv won the title there were 40,000 people in the city's main square to celebrate the victory.
At the start of the reconstruction of Lokomotiv Stadium, the section for the most devoted fans was to be called Bessica Tribune after the ancient Thracian tribe whose artefacts were discovered nearby. Since the project's postponement, the name has been used collectively for the most dedicated followers. Lokomotiv Plovdiv also has a football hooligan fan base, with some of the most prominent factions being Lauta Hools, Got Mitt Uns, Napoletani 1995, and Lauta Youths.
|2005–06||A Group||5||28||11||7||10||43||+1||40||Round of 32|
|2008–09||A Group||6||30||12||7||11||40||-3||43||Round of 32|
|2009–10||A Group||12||30||9||6||15||36||-16||33||Round of 32|
|2011–12||A Group||6||30||17||6||7||44||+5||57||Runner-Up||2012 Bulgarian Supercup Runners-Up|
|2012–13||A Group||9||30||10||9||11||37||+3||39||Round of 32|
|2015–16||A Group||5||32||15||4||14||40||-5||49||Round of 16|
|2017–18||First League||8||36||11||11||14||35||-13||44||Round of 16|
|2018–19||First League||10||34||10||8||16||37||-3||38||Winners||2019 Bulgarian Supercup Runners-Up|
|2019–20||First League||5||31||15||8||8||53||+18||53||Winners||2020 Bulgarian Supercup Winners|
As of 20 May 2014
- "Bolton 2–1 Lokomotiv Plovdiv". BBC News. 15 September 2005. Retrieved 2005-09-15.
- "МНОГОБРОЙНИ ПРИВЪРЖЕНИЦИ, ЧАСТ ВТОРА: ДЕСАНТИТЕ В ЧЕРНО-БЯЛО-ЧЕРВЕНО" [Numerous Supporters, Part Two: The Raids in Black-White-and-Red] (in Bulgarian). 13 Aug 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
- "ИСТОРИЯТА НА ЛОКОМОТИВ ПЛОВДИВ" [The History of Lokomotiv Plovdiv] (in Bulgarian). 28 Apr 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
- "ИСТОРИЯТА НА ЛОКОМОТИВ ПЛОВДИВ" [The History of Lokomotiv Plovdiv] (in Bulgarian). 28 Apr 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
- "25 ГОДИНИ КЛУБ НА ПРИВЪРЖЕНИЦИТЕ НА ЛОКОМОТИВ ПЛОВДИВ" [25 Years Club of the Supporters of Lokomotiv Plovdiv] (in Bulgarian). 10 May 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
- "Сезонът на "Лига Лаута" приключва тази седмица" [Liga Lauta Season Ends This Week] (in Bulgarian). 21 Apr 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
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