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Marc Overmars: Ajax director of football quits after sending 'inappropriate messages to female colleagues'

Marc Overmars had been Ajax's director of football affairs for nearly 10 years, and recently had his contract extended; former Arsenal, Barcelona and Ajax winger says he is "ashamed" after club say he sent "inappropriate messages to female colleagues over an extended period of time"

ALMELO, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 30: Director Marc Overmars of Ajax during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Heracles Almelo v Ajax at the Polman Stadium on October 30, 2021 in Almelo Netherlands (Photo by Rico Brouwer/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Image: Marc Overmars leaves Ajax with immediate effect

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 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.

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Dutch football journalist Marcel van der Kraan believes Ajax coach Erik ten Hag could leave the club following Marc Overmars' departure.

"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."

Marc Overmars in action for Arsenal during a 2000 Champions League match
Image: 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)
Image: 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."

'This is a bombshell in the Netherlands'

Marc Overmars has signed a new deal as Ajax director of football
Image: The resignation of Overmars has rocked people in the Netherlands, says Marcel van der Kraan

Dutch football journalist Marcel van der Kraan told Sky Sports News: "It's a bombshell in the Netherlands. absolutely in the Netherlands because Marc Overmars is the most successful football director Ajax has ever had. For 10 years he was making mega-profits [for the club], he was mega-successful, [winning] four league titles and reaching the further rounds in the Champions League.

"To find out this man has resigned over inappropriate messages sent to female employees of the club as we understand at this moment is a shock for everyone."

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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