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Marc Overmars: Ex-Arsenal star resigns from Ajax over 'inappropriate messages' to female colleagues

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By Euronews  with AFP
Marc Overmars has served as Ajax's director of football affairs since 2012.
Marc Overmars has served as Ajax's director of football affairs since 2012.   -   Copyright  LLUIS GENE/AFP, FILE

Ex-Arsenal and Barcelona star Marc Overmars has resigned as sporting director of Ajax football club after sending "inappropriate messages" to female colleagues.

The former Dutch international announced he would be stepping down from his role with "immediate effect".

Overmars apologised for his actions and admitted that he had "crossed the line", according to a club statement.

Ajax stated that their former director had sent "inappropriate" messages to "several women" over an "extended period of time".

"I am ashamed. Last week I was confronted with reports of my behaviour and how it was experienced by others," Overmars said.

"This behaviour is unacceptable. I see it now too. But it is too late. I see no other choice but to leave Ajax," he added.

"This also has a major impact on my private situation. That's why I ask everyone to leave me and my family alone."

"Unfortunately he has really crossed boundaries, so continuing as director was not an option"
Leen Meijaard
AFC Ajax Supervisory Board chairman

Overmars had been director of footballing affairs at the European giants since 2012 and had won the UEFA Champions League with Ajax as a player in 1995. He also played for Arsenal and Barcelona, as well as appearing 86 times for the Dutch national side.

The 48-year-old has been credited with making significant contributions to Ajax in recent years and club chairman Leen Meijaard described Overmars as "probably the best director of football Ajax has ever had".

But Meijaard stated that "continuing was not an option" and acknowledged the "devastating" impact that Overmaras' behaviour had had on women.

"I feel it is my responsibility to help our colleagues because of my role," added Ajax general manager Edwin van der Sar.

"A safe working environment is very important for everyone at Ajax. We will pay even more attention to this in the near future."

Overmars' resignation comes just weeks after the Netherlands was rocked by sexual abuse allegations on the popular television show The Voice of Holland.

On Tuesday, the Netherlands appointed a new commissioner to tackle sexual abuse and intimidation.

“Recent incidents in the sports and television world show us that the reason for the #MeToo movement in our country is still alive. This must change,” said Education, Culture and Science Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf.

"We are working on a culture change in which no one looks away and in which people hold each other accountable for wrong behaviour."

The Dutch Football Association (KNVB) said in a statement that it was "shocked" by the news and expressed its sympathy towards the victims.

"As the largest sports association in the Netherlands, we are aware that, unfortunately, power relations can also play a role in the workplace in the sports world," the federation said.

"A safe working environment is very important to us and is a topic that has been high on the agenda in professional football for some time."