Dutch football icon quits over ‘inappropriate’ messages to female staff
Former Arsenal and Barcelona winger Marc Overmars has stepped down from his position at Dutch side Ajax after the club accused him of conducting a prolonged campaign of sending inappropriate messages to female members of staff.
Overmars, who won 87 caps for the Netherlands during a playing career which spanned between 1990 and 2009, opted to step down from his role after discussions with the club's hierarchy and chief executive Edwin van der Sar.
“I am ashamed,” Overmars said in a statement published on the club's website. “Last week I was confronted with reports about my behavior and how this has come across to others.
“Unfortunately, I didn't realize that I was crossing the line with this, but that was made clear to me in recent days. I suddenly felt enormous pressure. I apologize.
“Certainly for someone in my position, this behaviour is unacceptable. I now see that too. But it is too late. I see no other option but to leave Ajax.
“This also has a major impact on my private situation. That is why I ask everyone to leave me and my family alone.”
Overmars been in charge of football affairs at Ajax for almost a decade and had recently signed a new contract which was intended to take his role with the club up to the 2025/26 season.
Speaking of the incident which has proved to be a seismic shock within Dutch football, Ajax supervisory board chairman Leen Meijaard said that the club's first thoughts are with the women who had been caught up in the situation.
“This is a dramatic situation for everyone who is involved in any way. It is devastating for the women who have had to deal with the behavior,” said Meijaard.
“When we heard news of this, we immediately acted, carefully deliberating and weighing what was the best thing to do - all in consultation with CEO Edwin van der Sar and assisted by an external expert.
“Marc is probably the best football director that Ajax has had. We upgraded and extended his contract for a reason. But unfortunately, he has really gone over the line, so continuing as director was not an option, as he recognized himself.
“It is extremely painful for everyone. I want to express the wish that everyone involved is given the peace and privacy to process this.”
Overmars' reign at the Dutch giants saw them steadily increase profits and claim four league titles, as well as seeing success in the Champions League - including reaching the semi-finals in 2019.
His playing career saw him win three league titles with the Dutch side as well as a single Champions League before a high profile transfer to the Premier League with Arsenal at whom he won a league and cup double in 1998.