Friday’s conversation between Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes and Sports Radio 810 WHB host Soren Petro was informative, revealing and candid.
You may want to take a listen.
Needless to say, excitement surrounding Sporting Kansas City and Major League Soccer became palpable earlier this week when a new collective bargaining agreement was ratified, setting the stage for the 2020 MLS campaign to resume with a marquee tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Disney Sports Complex in July.
Vermes’ appearance on 810 WHB consequently gave him a platform to share details about the Orlando competition, Sporting’s eventual return to full team training, and the rigorous COVID-19 testing that will take place for players and staff before and during the Florida trip.
Additionally, Sporting’s 12th-year head coach offered some poignant remarks in reaction to the social unrest resulting from the tragic death of African American George Floyd last month and systemic racism in society.
“It’s incredibly sad, and I say it’s incredibly sad because this isn’t the first time in recent years,” Vermes said. “What I’m disgusted about is, there is this lack of education. We all occupy the same home, and it’s the planet earth. We’re all really one big family in this world, so the idea that we—in this present time—still have issues, and that people are losing their lives…it’s appalling. It’s something that should be completely unacceptable.
“We’re in a unique situation,” Vermes said of his team and of MLS. “Our sport is incredibly ethnic. We probably have 13, 14 or 15 nationalities on our team. We have guys from everywhere.
“There’s a saying in our locker room: from many paths, we become one. We are a family. I said to the guys, I’m not naïve to know we all have challenges in life. At the same time, this is one of those situations where, first and foremost, we support the feeling that people—not only in this country but all over the world—are disgusted with this.”
As for the guidance Vermes has offered players on a multi-ethnic roster, he painted a very clear picture.
“I told our guys, I don’t even know if any of you guys face those challenges in our community here. But if you do, I don’t want you to go to somebody else. I want you to come straight to me, because I will deal with it. I’m not afraid to deal with a situation.
“I’d like to think we don’t have those issues, but I’m not going to pretend that sometimes these things don’t exist. Instead of shying away from it, I want to know. You don’t need to go to someone else on the staff. You can come to me. We are a family here, and we are going to keep working towards trying to improve things as much as we can, not only internally but also externally in our community and our city, in our state and hopefully nationally and internationally as best we can.”