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We study the role of a possible nonet of light scalar mesons in the still interesting \eta \to 3\pi decay process, with the primary motivation of learning more about the scalars themselves. The framework is a conventional non-linear chiral Lagrangian of pseudoscalars and vectors, extended to include the scalars. The parameters involving the scalars were previously obtained to fit the s-wave \pi\pi and \piK scatterings in the region up to about 1 GeV as well as the strong decay \eta' \to \eta \pi\pi. At first, one might expect a large enhancement from diagrams including a light \sigma(560). However there is an amusing cancellation mechanism which prevents this from occurring. In the simplest model there is an enhancement of about 13 per cent in the \e3p decay rate due to the scalars. In a more complicated model which includes derivative type symmetry breakers, the cancellation is modified and the scalars contribute about 30 percent of the total decay rate (although the total is not significantly changed). The vectors do not contribute much. Our model produces a reasonable estimate for the related a_0(980)-f_0(980) mixing strength, which has been a topic of current debate. Promising directions for future work along the present line are suggested.

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