FC Cincinnati coach Ron Jans is stepping away from the team while MLS investigates allegations that he used used a racial slur in front of his players earlier this week, The Athletic reports.
The club reportedly held a meeting on Friday afternoon with players about the incident, in which Jans reportedly used the N-word, according to The Athletic. The MLS Players Association also met with the team earlier in the morning.
During Jans's leave of absence, assistants Yoann Damet and Ivar van Dinteren will lead FC Cincinnati, reports The Cincinnati Enquirer's Pat Brennan.
MLS and MLSPA released statements saying they are aware of the incident.
"Major League Soccer has been informed of a complaint filed with the MLS Players Association regarding FC Cincinnati head coach Ron Jans," the league said in a statement, according to The Athletic. "The MLS league office, in cooperation with FC Cincinnati, has begun an investigation into the matter. Jans has stepped away from his coaching duties with the team while this matter is being investigated."
The player's association also said it was aware of "extremely inappropriate comments" made by Jans.
According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, club president Jeff Berding questioned Jans about the incident, and the coach said he used the word when singing along to music played in the locker room.
FC Cincinnati provided a statement to The Athletic.
"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 club hired Jans last August after the club dismissed coach Alan Koch in early May. Jans compiled a 1–5–4 league record over 10 games to finish the 2019 season.
FCC opens its 2020 campaign on March 1 against the New York Red Bulls.