KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The parents of Michael and Magdalena, Sporting Kansas City coach and athletic director Peter Vermes, fled Russian-occupied Hungary in 1956, eventually settling in New Jersey.
His mother’s house was shelled by Russian soldiers during clashes with protesters, and his father fought alongside compatriots during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.
It also made Michael a wanted man, so Vermes’ parents tried to flee several times before they managed to reach Austria and eventually immigrate to the United States when Magdalena was pregnant with Peter’s older brother, Ervin. .
Watching recent events unfold in Ukraine stirs haunting memories for Vermes, who spoke about the situation Wednesday at Sporting KC’s media day ahead of Saturday’s home opener against Houston Dynamo.
“Russia used to come in and take over so many countries that were all under the Iron Curtain, and it was not a good time in the history of all those countries,” Vermes said. . “It’s sad that it’s almost like looking back like it’s going to happen again. It’s sad. You’d like to think you’re progressing, not regressing. I think it’s regression in the ‘story.
Russia, without providing evidence, claimed that it was involved in a peacekeeping mission to prevent the genocide of ethnic Russians living in the Donbass region of Ukraine.
He is also seeking to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected government, citing another baseless claim that it has been infiltrated by neo-Nazi elements.
The reality has more to do with the fear of the Russian Federation that a free Ukraine will seek to align itself more with the European Union and NATO politically, economically and militarily, moving too far of Russia’s sphere of influence according to Vladimir Putin.
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“I can’t even understand the reasoning,” Vermes said. “I understand what the tactics are around it, but these days, come on, do we really think everyone is going to invade us? But the unfortunate thing is that it happens and it’s very difficult.
Vermes doesn’t expect the war to impact how the club, which scours the world for talent, builds its roster – at least not in the short term.
“Probably because we’re already up and running, not so much,” Vermes said.
Instead, Vermes said the impacts of COVID-19 on the immigration process have a bigger impact.
“It’s been taking a long time this year for one of the foreign acquisitions we’ve made,” Vermes said. “The process to get them their work visa was extraordinarily long. It made things a lot more difficult because usually I make my roster before the start of pre-season.
Without being present for the whole of pre-season, the indoctrination of newcomers into the style and system of Sporting KC has been disjointed or slowed down.
Remi Walter missed two weeks while at home in France to get a green card, and the delays lengthened the club’s arrival and assimilation process for newcomers Logan Ndenbe (Belgium), Marinos Tzionis ( Cyprus), Robi Voloder (Germany) and Nikola Vujnovic (Montenegro). ).
In fact, Vujnovic, whose the signing was announced on February 15hasn’t arrived yet as he flounders through the work visa process.
Changes to the immigration and visa application process under the Trump administration have also slowed the process, club officials say.
“We’re going to have to use the season to indoctrinate them,” Vermes said. “That’s probably the biggest challenge.”