Marc Overmars, a former Dutch soccer star who became a top executive at one of Europe’s most prominent teams, has abruptly left his job after admitting to sending inappropriate text messages to female colleagues.
Overmars, 48, had been director of football affairs at AFC Ajax, the Amsterdam soccer team, since 2012. He had recently renewed his contract until June 2026, according to Ajax, which announced the resignation late Sunday. Many details remained unclear, including whether charges had been filed against Overmars.
Overmars apologized for his behavior in a statement issued by Ajax, in which he said he was “ashamed.”
“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.”
“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,” he added.
Overmars played as a winger for some of Europe’s top soccer teams, including Ajax, Arsenal and Barcelona, as well as the Dutch national team.
Ajax is currently leading the Eredivisie, the highest level of professional soccer in the Netherlands, and is the defending national champion.
The resignation comes as a sexual misconduct scandal dominates the news and has captured national attention in the Netherlands after allegations emerged of widespread sexual misconduct at a popular TV talent show. Experts have said that issues surrounding consent and sexual misconduct have long been ignored in the Netherlands.
Leen Meijaard, the chairman of Ajax’s supervisory board, called Overmars “probably the best football director that Ajax has had.” But, he added, after consulting an expert and the team’s chief executive they concluded that it was not an option for him to continue in his role.
“It is devastating for the women who have had to deal with this behavior. When we heard the news, we immediately acted,” Meijaard said. “Unfortunately, he has really gone over the line.”
The soccer world has seen multiple harassment scandals recently. The head of a program run by FIFA, the world soccer governing body, to bring together luminaries of the game, FIFA Legends, was found to have sexually harassed a subordinate in 2019. In 2020, female soccer players, including some who played in Haiti’s national soccer program, accused senior soccer officials of coercing players into having sex.
Edwin van der Sar, a former star goalkeeper who is currently Ajax’s chief executive and who played with Overmars at Ajax in the 1990s, called the situation “appalling” and said that the club would pay more attention to matters of misconduct in the near future.
“A safe sport and working climate is very important,” 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.”