Fri. Jul 1st, 2022

Marc Overmars, Ajax’s director of football affairs, will leave the club with immediate effect after the Dutch champions said he sent a “series of inappropriate messages to several female colleagues”

Ajax stated that Overmars made the decision to step down after talks over recent days with the club’s board and chief executive Edwin van der Sar.

Overmars – the former Arsenal, Barcelona and Ajax winger – told the club’s website: “I am ashamed. Last week I was confronted with reports about my behaviour and how this has come across to others.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t realise that I was crossing the line with this, but that was made clear to me in recent days. I suddenly felt enormous pressure. I apologise.

“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.”

Arsenal's Marc Overmars celebrates after scoring past Newcastle keeper Shay Given during today's (Saturday) FA Cup Final at Wembley. Photo by Sean Dempsey/PA
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Overmars played for Arsenal between 1997 and 2000

Overmars had held the role of director of football affairs for nearly 10 years, and had recently had his contract extended until the end of the 2025/26 season.

Leen Meijaard, Ajax’s supervisory board chairman, said: “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 behaviour.

“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 recognised 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.”

Van der Sar – the ex-Manchester United and Fulham goalkeeper – added: “I find the situation appalling for everyone and I agree with Leen Meijaard’s words.

AMSTERDAM - (lr) Ajax technical director Marc Overmars, Ajax general director Edwin van der Sar during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Ajax Amsterdam and FC Emmen in the Johan Cruijff Arena on May 02, 2021 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. ANP MAURICE VAN STEEN (Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images)
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Overmars (left) with Edwin van der Sar

“In my role, I also feel responsible to help colleagues. A safe sport and working climate is very important. We will pay even more attention to this in the near future.

“Marc and I have been playing together since the early 1990s, first at Ajax and then with the national team and we have been colleagues in the management of Ajax for almost 10 years now. That has now come to a very abrupt end.

“We are working on something very wonderful here at Ajax, so this news will also be a blow to everyone who cares about Ajax.”

Overmars enjoyed a glittering playing career at Ajax, winning three league titles, the Dutch cup and the Champions League before joining Arsenal in 1997.

The winger won the double at Highbury in 1998 ahead of a move to Barcelona in 2000, where he spent four years before retiring.

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