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Marc Overmars quits Ajax after sending inappropriate messages to female colleagues


The 48-year-old former Dutch international — who played for Ajax, Arsenal, and Barcelona, among others, during his playing career — had held the role since 2012.

Overmars had told the club’s Supervisory Board and CEO Edwin Van Der Sar of his desire to quit following discussions over the last few days, his departure confirmed with “immediate effect,” according to a statement released by Ajax.

“A series of inappropriate messages sent to several female colleagues over an extended period of time underlies his decision to leave the club,” the statement added.

Overmars spent five years as player at Ajax between 1992 and 1997 before a move to English Premier League club Arsenal.

The Dutchman played for three years in North London before transferring to Barcelona in 2000 to become the most expensive Dutch footballer of all-time.

With 86 appearances for the Dutch national team, he is the 13th most capped player in Netherlands history.

Overmars during the UEFA Champions League match between Sporting CP and Ajax Amsterdam on September 15, 2021

In a statement to Ajax’s website, Overmars said that he was “ashamed” of his “unacceptable behavior.”

” Last week I was confronted with reports about my behavior. And how this has come across to others,” Overmars said.

“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 behavior 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.”

‘It is devastating for the women who had to deal with the behavior’

In December, Overmars’ contract — due to run till November 2024 — was extended by Ajax’s Supervisory Board until June 2026.

The 48-year-old had played a key role in the buying and selling of players for Ajax. The Dutch club has established a reputation for developing young players and then selling them to many of Europe’s leading clubs for a huge profit.

The Supervisory Board’s chairman, Lee Meijaard, said that the club had acted “immediately” — consulting Van Der Sar as well as “an external expert.”

“This is a dramatic situation for everyone who is involved in any way,” Meijaard said. “It is devastating for the women who have had to deal with the behavior.

“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 playing for Ajax against Feyenoord on August 16, 1995.

Van Der Sar, a former teammate of Overmars for both Ajax and the Netherlands, said that he agreed with Meijaard’s comments, stating that the situation was “appalling for everyone.”

“In my role, I also feel responsible to help colleagues,” Van Der Sar said. “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 1990’s … 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.”

The Dutch club tops the Eredivisie — Ajax is five points clear of PSV Eindhoven after 21 matches — and is due to play Benfica in the last 16 of the Champions League on February 23 in Lisbon and then in Amsterdam on March 15.

Overmars playing against France during the European Championships in 2000.

Playing career

Overmars began his club career with Dutch team Go Ahead Eagles in 1990, moving to Willem II before signing for Ajax in 1992.

He won three Eredivisie titles and a Champions League title in Amsterdam before a move to Arsenal in 1997, wherein he added a Premier League and FA Cup double in his first season.

He became the most expensive Dutch footballer of all time and the most expensive player in Barcelona history when he signed from the Gunners in July 2000 for a fee of around 36 million euros ($41.17 million).

In 2004, a 31-year-old Overmars announced his retirement — citing a recurring knee injury — but returned to football in 2008 to play one season at the club where he started his career, Go Ahead Eagles.

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