Ajax director of football Marc Overmars has left the club with immediate effect following a ‘series of inappropriate messages sent to several female colleagues over an extended period of time’.
Overmars described himself as ‘ashamed’ and admitted his behaviour has been ‘unacceptable’, although he insists he didn’t realise until confronted with it.
Ajax chief executive Edwin van der Sar called it ‘appalling for everyone’, while chairman of the board Leen Meijaard said it was ‘devastating for the women who have had to deal with the behaviour’.
Overmars has been hailed in recent years as one of the best sporting directors working in European football, having played a huge role in shaping Ajax’s renewed domestic dominances and impressive performances in the Champions League.
The former Ajax, Arsenal and Barcelona winger has regularly been linked with other clubs but committed to a new long-term contract in Amsterdam as recently as December 2021.
“I am ashamed,” Overmars said in a club statement. “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.”
Van der Sar, who was a teammate of Overmars in Ajax’s 1995 Champions League winning side, commented, “I find the situation appalling for everyone and I agree with Leen Meijaard's words.
“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 ten 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.”