FC Cincinnati head coach Ron Jans has "stepped away" from the team -- two weeks before the start of the regular season -- as the league investigates a complaint that he used a racial slur, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Friday.

Major League Soccer received a complaint from the MLS Players Association and subsequently started an investigation.

Jans, a native of the Netherlands who coached FC Cincinnati for part of its debut season in 2019, reportedly used "the N-word," the reported stated, while singing along to music that was being played in the team's locker room. The Enquirer said that a player told Jans privately that using such a word is not acceptable in the United States.

"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 Friday. "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."

Jans took over as the team's head coach in August from interim coach Yoann Damet. Head coach Alan Koch, who was with the team when it played in the second-tier USL, was fired 11 games into its inaugural MLS season with a 2-7-2 record after general manager Jeff Berding said "team culture" had "deteriorated."

According to the Enquirer report, Jans also made remarks about slavery after the team visited Washington, D.C., memorials in advance of an Oct. 6 game against D.C. United.

"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," FC Cincinnati said in a statement. "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."

Jans played 15 seasons professionally, mostly in the Netherlands, from 1976-91. He has been a head coach or assistant coach for teams since 1991, arriving at FC Cincinnati from PEC Zwolle in the top Dutch league.

The season opener is March 1 at New York Red Bulls.

--Field Level Media

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