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Overmars quits Ajax over messages to female colleagues

February 6, 2022 GMT

Marc Overmars abruptly quit as director of football at Dutch champion Ajax on Sunday after apologizing for sending inappropriate messages to female colleagues.

Overmars, a renowned winger in his playing days for Ajax, Arsenal, Barcelona and the Netherlands, said he was “ashamed” after being confronted by the club in the last week about his behavior.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that I was crossing the line with this, but that was made clear to me in recent days,” he said in a statement. “I suddenly felt enormous pressure. I apologize. Certainly for someone in my position, this behavior is unacceptable. I now see that too. But it is too late. I see no other option but to leave Ajax.”

The club said “a series of inappropriate messages sent to several female colleagues over an extended period of time” led to the decision.

The conduct, described as “extremely painful for everyone” by supervisory board chair Leen Meijaard, will see Overmars leave with immediate effect.

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“It is devastating for the women who have had to deal with the behavior,” Meijaard said. “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.”

The 48-year-old Overmars started as director of football at Ajax a decade ago and has been working under Van der Sar, a former Ajax and Netherlands teammate.

“I find the situation appalling for everyone,” Van der Sar said. “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.”

Overmars had a recently extended contract through June 2026 with Ajax.

“That has now come to a very abrupt end,” Van der Sar said. “We are working on something very wonderful here at Ajax, so this news will also be a blow to everyone who cares about Ajax.”

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