FC Cincinnati Coach Resigns After Racial Slur Investigation

Feb 18, 2020

FC Cincinnati's head coach resigned late Monday the team says in a statement. Ron Jans was being investigated by Major League Soccer about his alleged use of inappropriate language and racial slurs.

"As Major League Soccer's investigation unfolded and some themes emerged, Jans offered his resignation and we agreed that it was the best course of action for everyone involved with FC Cincinnati," club president Jeff Berding says in a release.

Berding repeated that during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. "The findings concluded that this was not a single incident but broader themes and experiences that were insensitive."

The situation with Jans was more extensive than initially stated, the team revealed Tuesday afternoon.

Late Friday, news broke that a grievance had been filed with the Players Association and MLS. The team issued a statement saying Jans would be stepping away from the team during the investigation. FC Cincinnati says officials spoke with Jans, who said he used the "N-word" while singing along to music in the locker room and that a player had told him the word was acceptable in the United States. Jans is from the Netherlands.

Further reporting, which ESPN says it confirmed, suggested the complaint stemmed from comments Jans made about slavery when the the team was in Washington D.C. in October.

The team now indicates the situation was more extensive and those initial reports may not have been entirely factual.

MLS Players Association Executive Director Bob Foose says in a statement, "The pattern of conduct of the former FC Cincinnati coach fell far short of acceptable standards, and created an untenable and unfair working environment for our players."

Foose denies reports that the incidents that led to Jans' resignation were related to singing lyrics, saying that is a "false narrative." He further states that the complaint was not filed by any particular player or players, and statements made to media about the nature of the Jans' conduct were "attempts to manipulate the public conversation over the last few days. ... These intentional falsehoods have added to the toxicity of the atmosphere and encouraged further, deplorable abuse of players."

MLS Commissioner Don Garber was asked about the situation in Cincinnati while at a stadium naming unveiling in Pennsylvania. "That's an ongoing process and ongoing investigation, so I'm going to let it play out," he told reporters.

Assistant Coach Yoann Damet will serve as interim head coach. General Manager Gerard Nijkamp, also from the Netherlands, says the team won't rush to hire a new coach but will take its time to find the right person and ensure that person understands more than just soccer but also cultural issues.

He was asked how a team that spent so much time searching for a head coach could "blow it so badly."

"I don't think that we blew it," he says. "We did our research professionally and took our time and we created a profile and we were all convinced that Ron was the right person at the right time, but sometimes you will be surprised."

All of this upheaval comes roughly two weeks before the start of the season. FC Cincinnati's first game is March 1.

"We place the utmost importance on a strong culture within our club, beginning in our locker room, and that every person connected with FC Cincinnati feels valued, respected and trusted," Berding continues from Tuesday's release. "Racial and cultural diversity is a major part of what makes the game of soccer so special, and we place the highest priority on respecting every person involved in our game. This includes absolutely everyone associated with our club, from our locker room and front office, all the way through to our fans."

This isn't the first time FC Cincinnati has had troubles in the locker room with a coach. Previous Head Coach Alan Koch was let go in May of 2019 "after a series of recent issues and a team culture that had deteriorated," Berding said at the time.