FC Cincinnati head coach Ron Jans has stepped down from the club amid a probe into the use of an alleged racial slur while addressing his own players, according to reports from the United States.
Jans, who had been in charge of the club or less than a year, resigned earlier this week following an investigation by Major League Soccer into his alleged use of a racially insensitive phrase, as pressure mounted on both the club and the league to address the issue.
His use of the term was explained in some quarters as an “effort to connect” with the players, with some former players openly stating that they don’t consider Jans to hold racist beliefs.
“As Major League Soccer’s investigation unfolded and some themes emerged, Ron offered his resignation and we agreed that it was the best course of action for everyone involved with FC Cincinnati,” sain club president Jeff Berding in an official statement.
“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.
“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.”
Addressing the incident, Dutchman Jans told The Cincinnati Enquirer that his time in the city was “a great book with a very bad last chapter.”
“I wouldn’t have sung the word, that’s for sure,” he said when asked if there was anything about his tenure with the team that he would change.
“I learned that lesson. But I am who I am and if it doesn’t fit in this locker room, I think for a lot of players it was a good match and sometimes an excellent match but not with all of them.
“That has never been a question for me. If I hurt feelings, even if it was clumsy and not with bad intentions, I really apologize,” Jans said.
“That has never been a question, so, I don’t feel guilty but I really apologize if I hurt feelings.”
The Major League Soccer Players Association (MLSPA), has condemned a series of what they called “false narratives” surrounding the incident. They denied press reports that a complaint was made to them by one of FC Cincinnati’s players and also said that reports that Jans used the word in question while singing along with a song are also inaccurate – directly contradicting Jans’ version of events.
“The narrative that the conduct here involved singing along to song lyrics is completely false, despite the former coach’s recent assertions,” MLSPA Executive Director Bob Foose said.
“Also false is the narrative that a complaint was filed by any particular player or players. These intentional falsehoods have added to the toxicity of the atmosphere and encouraged further, deplorable abuse of players.”