Babelfish translator? It’s no Friend of mine.

The disarray on the men’s national team scene has reached a new level of ridiculousness, as striker Rob Friend has apparently come out swinging against allegations that he’ll never again play for Canada under Dale Mitchell. Well, not against the allegations per se — just the fact that he feels his quote in a German magazine was mistranslated to suggest as such, without actually refuting the statement he supposedly made.

Confused? Okay, let’s go.

On October 10, BCSoccerWeb published an article entitled “Rob Friend quits Canada if Mitchell stays!” with a link to an interview the lanky Borussia Monchengladbach forward gave to a German-language magazine called Bild. The BC folk included a loose translation of the text, as follows: “I’ve been travelling all around the world lately. It’s exhausted me and got me nowhere. I don’t see any future for myself at Canada with Dale Mitchell in charge… I don’t know what the future holds, but I will never play under Dale Mitchell again. We have very different ideas and that’s on more than one thing.”

When this news broke on the Voyageurs forum, it wasn’t especially shocking — given recent high-profile grumblings by Jim Brennan, Dwayne DeRosario and Julian de Guzman, the fact that Friend was unhappy with Mitchell seemed simply like the last straw for the beleaguered manager. Throw in the fact that Friend was left completely helpless in Mitchell’s defensive-minded 4-5-1 formation, and was sent home halfway through the qualifying campaign, and the above translation (even if a few words were off from the original German) seems like it could reasonably have been something Friend would say.

But apparently, it’s not something he would say. The folks at BCSoccerWeb received some “angry” correspondence from Morgan Quarry, “manager” of the Canadian national team (as opposed to Mitchell, who is technically the “coach”, but who I call the manager). Quarry evidently claims that the translation is “a complete fabrication” and that Friend himself is “furious” that BCSoccerWeb “made up quotes”. According to BCSoccerWeb, neither Quarry nor Friend provided any clarification of what was actually said or meant in the original German article.

So what are we to take from this? Someone somewhere along the line is not telling the truth, that’s for sure.

I ran the original article through the occasionally-hilarious Babelfish translator, and this is how the quotes came out: “I would like to concentrate fully on Borussia. In the last weeks I traveled nearly around the whole world. That brought much at the forces pulled – and not. “ Does it never play more for Canada? Friend: “Being waiting, which brings the future. But under the present coach surely not. We both have nevertheless in some points very different views…”

Now, that seems pretty damn close to the “cleaned up” translation, and “under the present coach surely not” is pretty definitive. So unless Friend is just upset about conjugation or word choice or something, I don’t see how he could be angry that people are taking this article to be his parting shot at Mitchell.

Unless, of course, he was misquoted in the original article, intentionally or not. I don’t know anything about Bild Magazine; maybe it’s a tabloid? Maybe it’s the German equivalent of The Sun, raking muck and fabricating stories to appease the soccer-loving masses? As Grizzly, a well-travelled member of the Vs, claims: “Bild seems to make up most of what they print and always goes for the sensational aspect. It is certainly a more interesting story to report about a pissed off Friend quiting than a happy one. It is probably also easier and cheaper to make up the news than to actually interview people and investigate.”

So maybe the source is completely full of shit. But why, then, would Friend get angry at Canadians who are translating a bogus source, rather than expressing disgust at Bild for manufacturing the story in the first place? But wait, maybe Friend has nothing to do with this at all… Richard, another senior V who writes for BCSoccerWeb, says he has not actually heard from Rob Friend directly, “only Morgan Quarry who said he was quoting Rob Friend.” Richard says he has emailed Friend directly, asking for clarification in English but, as of this writing, has received no response.

So perhaps Quarry is full of bollocks. Or someone infiltrated Quarry’s email address and, for some reason, decided to send off a bitter missive to the guys at BCSoccerWeb. Why would they do that? Who the hell knows?

But, to summarize: Rob Friend might have told a German magazine that he would no longer play for Canada under Dale Mitchell — unless the magazine was full of shit — and now might be wanting a retraction from a Canadian website that published a translation of said article — if we are to believe that an email allegedly sent by a member of the Canadian national team’s staff to the website indicates that Friend does indeed want said retraction — but we have no idea whether or not he would be willing to provide an English clarification of some anti-Mitchell quotes that he may or may not have ever made in the first place. And in all of this, we don’t know for sure whether or not our highest-profile striker will actually ever play for Canada again.

It all just keeps getting worse and worse, doesn’t it?

Update! (Nov. 1) It seems as though Friend has actually responded to BCSoccerWeb and “clarified” his comments as follows: “In light of recent articles regarding my position with the Canadian National Team, I feel it is important clarify where I stand. Along with everyone else, I am disappointed with how the World Cup Qualifying campaign has gone. However, I want to be clear that my commitment and loyalty to the Canadian National Team has not changed. At this point I believe it is important for me to focus on my club but I will always be proud to represent my country.”

Frankly, that’s good to hear, but there’s still a little room for confusion. In this clarification, Friend appears to be stating that he will always accept the call to play with the nats, even if Mitchell is still in charge. But then, what are we to do with the suggestion in Bild that he wouldn’t play under Mitchell again? Were those quotes fabricated by Bild? Or did the article capture Friend’s true sentiment, which he’s now trying to sweep under the rug? Either way, we won’t have to worry about it for a while, but it’ll be interesting (and horrifying, and depressing, and…) to see what happens if Mitchell is still in charge when next year’s Gold Cup rolls around and it’s time to name a roster…


2 Responses to “Babelfish translator? It’s no Friend of mine.”

  1. […] there is the whole Rob Friend kerfuffle. Did he get all froofroo over Dale Mitchell and quite the MNT in a huff, or was it all just taken out of context – a bad […]

  2. […] they are the type of Google Translate type articles that have been known to whip Canadian players into a tizzy. And, this being the European silly season, you can’t read too much into speculation and idle […]

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