FC Cincinnati head coaching carousel continues

Ron Jans resigns from his post after uttering a racial slur in the locker room

Former FC Cincinnati head coach Ron Jans resigned from his position after an investigation revealed he uttered a racial slur in front of his players at the team’s preseason camp. He was hired in August last year.

FC Cincinnati will kick off its second season in Major League Soccer (MLS), but the team will begin the 2020 campaign without a full-time manager.

News broke on Feb. 14 that Ron Jans, now the former FC Cincinnati manager, was being investigated by the MLS for using a racial slur and that he would be stepping away from the team while the investigation took place.

One week later, the team announced Jans was resigning from his position voluntarily as the team’s head coach.

Jans was accused of uttering the racial slur in front of players — an incident which was reported by a player to the MLS Players Association (MLSPA).

According to Jans, the incident occurred in the locker room while he was singing along to a song that was playing that contained the word.

Some have criticized his use of the word a clumsy attempt to bond with the locker room while others have dismissed the incident as a cultural misunderstanding.

Jans hails from the Netherlands, and has only been in America for about six months.

However, the MLSPA disputed this, saying in a statement “the narrative that the conduct here involved singing along to song lyrics is completely false.”

Club President Jeff Berding revealed as the investigation unfolded that “some themes emerged.” Berding took swift action last week saying that all club employees will undergo cultural sensitivity training following the events that have transpired.

Some players have been more vocal about the issue, including Maikel Van der Werff, who was brought in last summer since he had formerly played under Jans.

“There is anger and disappointment in the players’ group,” he said. “(Jans) did not deserve this.”

Meanwhile, team captain Kendall Waston was seen liking a batch of tweets speaking negatively about Jans, including one which, originally in Spanish, read “Hopefully they take away (Jans’) coaching license.”

After his resignation, Jans apologized to those who may have felt offended by his statements. He said, “I don’t feel guilty, but I really apologize if I hurt feelings.”

Jans’ use of the racial slur is perhaps not the only reason he vacated his position. The resignation came before the findings of MLS’ investigation were released.

This could signify that the club decided to move on from Jans because of a rift in the locker room.

Even if Jans was found to have used the slur out of ignorance and could return to his position, he likely would not have the support of the whole locker room. This disconnect could have led to poorer performance by the club.

FC Cincinnati will hope to unite under interim coach Yoann Damet, who will take over for a second term as interim coach in less than a year. The loss of Jans is the fourth coaching change that FC Cincinnati has made since the team’s promotion to the MLS in March 2019.

Without a consistent coach and play style, it has been even more difficult for the team to produce consistent results on the pitch.

In order to provide more continuity despite many coaching changes, FC Cincinnati has embraced a Dutch identity during the past year. Last summer, the team hired General Manager Gerard Nijkamp from the Netherlands.

The team now has three high-profile Dutch players, including Jürgen Locadia, Siem de Jong, and Van der Werff.

While the team will hope to regroup under Damet, Nijkamp has already confirmed one of his targets to be the next coach of FC Cincinnati is Jaap Stam, a former Manchester United player.

Nonetheless, the coaching predicament could not have come at a worse time for the team. FC Cincinnati brought in six players over the offseason who will likely be in the starting lineup.

Things were beginning to click in the preseason as well after they beat the Philadelphia Union 1-0 in a preseason friendly.

Now, the team will have to rely on Damet’s leadership to not only fix the dynamic in the locker room, but also to get wins on the pitch.

Since it’s likely that it may be a few weeks before a new coach is named, FC Cincinnati will need Damet to step up in a big way.