The Sports Jurisprudence Institute (ISR) concludes that Overmars has violated the Sexual Harassment regulations. The suspension means that he is not allowed to hold a position within the KNVB and affiliated organizations for a year. He may continue to carry out his current work in Belgium – he is technical director at Royal Antwerp FC.
The statement can be traced back to an Ajax employee who reported to general manager Edwin van der Sar on January 26 last year with signals about sexual misconduct by Overmars. A lawyer engaged by the club conducted further investigation. The reporter gave her more than 300 pages of WhatsApp messages from Overmars, which covered a period of 3.5 years and were largely ‘sexually oriented’, according to the ruling published on Thursday. Because of her ‘dependent relationship’ with the technical director, she previously did not dare to do anything about it.
‘Affected and guilty’
At the beginning of February last year, Overmars was confronted with the findings by Ajax. “He was affected and guilty,” according to the report submitted by Ajax to the ISR. He acknowledged that there had been sexual misconduct and that he always thought that the victim had not experienced this as undesirable. In a written response to the ISR, Overmars states: ‘I have therefore assumed all along that there was reciprocity.’
According to Ajax’s report, Overmars approached ten to fifteen women with ‘non-business messages, sexual innuendos and/or sexually suggestive messages’. Overmars was only convicted for the messages to the woman who reported to Van der Sar. It is unclear who the other women are, according to the ISR. As a result, Overmars cannot defend himself against reports that he has harassed even more women.
Based on an article in Het Parool from September last year, the prosecutor also accuses Overmars undesirable behavior towards players of Ajax Women. Because it is not clear who is involved, the ISR also considers this issue to be unproven. The same applies to an incident described in the article in which Overmars is said to have entered the physio room when players there were ‘in a vulnerable position on the treatment table’.
Overmars acknowledges having been in the physio room when players were being treated there, according to him always in the presence of a caregiver. That is insufficient to assume that this was undesirable or inappropriate, according to the ruling.
Overmars left Ajax in February of last year. A few weeks after his departure, he spoke with then chairman of the supervisory board Leen Meijaard about a possible return at the club, as stated in the recently published book Ajax in crisis. Less than two months later, Overmars became technical director in Belgium. At Ajax, this switch is seen as a slap in the face to the management and ‘a kick to the women’.
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The post first appeared on www.parool.nl