FC Cincinnati coach Ron Jans is accused of using a racial slur, resulting in him “stepping away” from the team while an investigation is completed, The Enquirer has learned.
The issue came to the team’s attention Thursday when it was notified by Major League Soccer, which received a complaint from the Major League Soccer Players Association (MLSPA).
When questioned about the incident, Jans told FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding he said the word when singing along with music played in the locker room.
Later, a player took Jans aside to tell him that was unacceptable in America. Jans, 61, is from the Netherlands.
“The Players Association was very recently made aware of extremely inappropriate comments made by FC Cincinnati coach Ron Jans,” MLSPA said in a statement provided to The Enquirer. “We have made a report to the appropriate league officials and expect an immediate and thorough league investigation to be conducted.”
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Nick Hagglund, Spencer Richey and Greg Garza, who serve as the team representatives for MLSPA, could not be reached for comment.
In a separate incident, the complaint against Jans says he made inappropriate comments about slavery before the Oct. 6 game against D.C. United. In that case, it was said after Jans spent time at the nation’s memorials and was meant to inspire the team to overcome adversity.
Berding addressed the team at 2 p.m. Jans had already left the training facility. Berding could not be reached for comment.
A statement released by the team said:
“FC Cincinnati was founded and operates with three core values: (1) being inclusive and family-friendly, (2) having a strong and visible presence in the community, and (3) winning on the field. When club leadership was made aware of the allegation, we were very surprised as building a caring and committed culture has been a focus of Ron’s leadership. We want to fully understand the nature of the incident and allow for an environment for our players to speak freely to any locker room issues. Therefore, while both the Club and Major League Soccer work together, Ron will step away from the team during the investigation. While the investigation is undertaken, the Club is also committed to ensuring every member of the club has a deeper appreciation and awareness for differences in cultures and backgrounds, and will institute training for every member of the organization.The Club will not have further comment on this matter until the conclusion of the joint investigation with MLS.”
The complaint comes at a critical time for the team, which is in the midst of preseason training in Florida.
Jans was hired in August toward the end of a dismal season last year in which the team ended the season in last place. Jans is tasked with rebuilding the team.
The season opener is March 1 at New York Red Bulls.
Jans’s departure means he will miss at least one friendly game this Sunday. In his place, assistant coaches Yoann Damet and Ivar van Dinteren will lead the club.
Damet led the club for most of 2019 after former head coach Alan Koch was fired.
Major League Soccer officials confirmed in a Friday statement that the league had been informed of the complaint against Jans.
“The MLS league office, in cooperation with FC Cincinnati, has begun an investigation into the matter,” MLS officials said in the statement. “Jans has stepped away from his coaching duties with the team while this matter is being investigated.”
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