A few days ago Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes gave a lecture titled “Building and Maintaining Culture in Business” at Rockhurst University’s Arrupe Hall as part of their annual ‘Young Alumni Speaker Series’ on Tuesday night.
Overall it lasted about 75 minutes but comments from approximately two minutes of the speech has blown up in the last 24 hours. Specifically, what Vermes said that related to former Sporting KC forward Kei Kamara.
One of our writers was there and wrote up a quick recap of the lecture and submitted it. Unfortunately, the timing was not great with a lot of other things going on. I decided to let it wait a couple days until we could verify some of the comments and there was not as much going on so it could get attention on it’s own merit.
But then Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star wrote an article from that same lecture.
One of the highlights that Sam used was comments relating to team-first attitude within the culture of the Sporting KC. While Vermes did not mention any names, it was easy for anyone who knew the history of the team (or could use google) to figure out who he meant. One of the examples was presumably Emiliano Amor and another was Kei Kamara.
Vermes talked about allowing a player to go to England on loan and what happened when he came back and then later selling him to another club. The comments are brief in the purpose of giving an example of the bigger point Vermes was trying to make about culture.
The quotes that Sam used from Vermes is as follows:
“(When he came back) I could tell he was a different guy, and he was a problem. He wasn’t team-first anymore.
Note: Sam and I have been in many of the same interviews and rarely would we transcribe a quote differently. Typically with some differences in clarifications only.
Kei Kamara heard about the article and says he spoke to Vermes and that the quotes were not accurate.
According to Nate Bukaty’s tweet over the weekend, Vermes said the comments were misconstrued.
On #RetroNIght, I asked about past players Vermes has enjoyed. He made a pint to bring up Kei Kamara, "Something I said at a presentation was misconstrued about Kei...I was talkinga about ambition, and it got misconstrued about him having a bad attitude...that's incorrect..."— Nate Bukaty (@nate_bukaty) May 5, 2019
If they were misconstrued, it was because Vermes did not say them in the best way, but it was also a lecture to students, not a press conference.
When Kamara came back to Sporting KC from his loan with Norwich City, it was clear that he thought he could play and still make it in England. Either EPL or the Championship but Kamara still understandably had those ambitions after having scored for Norwich in the EPL.
In all the conversations that I’ve had with Vermes around that time or since, or other interviews since then, Vermes has never spoke poorly of Kamara.
So we do know that the quotes were accurate, but they may not have conveyed what Vermes actually meant. Does having short-term ambition mean you are not team-first?
Maybe. But Vermes has spoke many times about players having ambition past Sporting KC and that not being a bad thing.
UPDATE: Sam McDowell has posted a portion of the lecture audio. Having heard this portion and the bulk of the overall lecture, we can confirm McDowell’s quotes are accurate and did likely pertain to Kamara.
As explained in the article, this 65-minute presentation centered on culture. PV also spoke of players’ ambition. Here are seven seconds from those 65 minutes, as accurately quoted in the story. This will be our last comment on the matter. pic.twitter.com/LGgWSzozgS— Sam McDowell (@SamMcDowell11) May 6, 2019
We have reached out to Kei Kamara and Sporting KC.