“The allegations were alarming, we took them very seriously."
Those were the words of FC Cincinnati club president Jeff Berding addressing reporters via conference call following the resignation of head coach Ron Jans in the wake of an investigation sparked by an MLS Players Association complaint which accused Jans of making "extremely inappropriate comments."
The pair spoke on Thursday evening and before the investigation began the decision was made for Jans to step away from the team at IMG Academy in Florida, where FCC were continuing preseason preparations.
“The findings concluded that this was not a single incident, but broader themes and experiences that were insensitive and inappropriate," Berding said. "Upon receiving this overview, I reviewed the findings with our general manager Gerard Nijkamp. After hearing these initial conclusions, we knew there was no future for Ron at our club and he could not remain FC Cincinnati’s head coach. Gerard met with Ron and explained the situation and it was agreed it was best for him to move on.”
The move ends Jans's short-lived tenure with Cincinnati, after he was hired on August 4 last year.
“Of course it’s a very sad day for all of us," Nijkamp said. "It will take time to think a little more positive in the future about where we want to go as a club and as a team in the season of 2020. I’m coming from the same country as Ron, I appointed him as head coach, I’m very sad that it’s happening like this. We never can accept the words Ron mentioned in the locker room.”
When speaking with Jans about the complaint, Berding said the former head coach didn't deny the allegations.
“His reaction was to share his perspective," Berding said. "He shared that he doesn’t have animus, but acknowledged insensitivity in his dealings with the players. He understood and supported that we were going to do the investigation. Yes, he was remorseful. He stated that he felt badly. It’s been a tough few days.”
Moving forward, the club vow to learn from the events. While they stick by the process that ultimately led to the hiring of Jans, Nijkamp said he will look to add one key element to the sequence: a cultural background check.
“The only thing we did not do was a cultural background check because we were bringing a head coach from abroad," Nijkamp said. "The learning from this that in the future we will add a culture background check and bring maybe professionals from outside to help us to do this.”
The club is less than two weeks away from their 2020 season debut, nearing the end of preseason. Assistant Yoann Damet has been elevated to interim head coach for the second time in a calendar year.
“The coaches were also under the leadership of Ron for the start of the season, they know the players very well," Nijkamp said. "We built not only a playing style but also a philosophy. We’re very convinced that Yoann and his staff can continue the hard work that was already done, but hopefully now we can look forward, and not forget what has happened, but the group has to grow together again to trust each other in the locker room so we can reach our goals this season.”
Nijkamp also added that the club won't rush the coaching search, stating that they have the utmost confidence in Damet to lead the club forward.