Marc Overmars has been suspended for a year due to inappropriate behavior. There is also a conditional suspension of one year, with a probationary period of two years. That can be read in the ruling of the Sports Jurisdiction Institute (ISR).
The ISR concludes that Overmars did not comply with the rule that he ‘abstains from sexual harassment through any means of communication’ during his period as director of football affairs at Ajax and has therefore violated the Sexual Harassment regulations.
The suspension means that from the date of the ruling he is not allowed to hold any position within the KNVB football association or organizations affiliated with the KNVB for one year. Overmars can therefore continue to carry out his work in Belgium. A few weeks after his dismissal from Ajax, he started working as technical director at Belgian Antwerp.
The ruling can be forwarded from the KNVB to FIFA. If the World Football Association takes over the punishment, this could have consequences for his work in Belgium.
Marjan Olfers, professor of sport and law, sheds light on possible international consequences:
It is not yet clear whether the KNVB will also do this. The Football Association says it is studying the ruling and considering the consequences.
Royal Antwerp FC, Overmars’ current club, is also still considering. “Once our club has been able to study the ruling and the motivation, communication will follow,” a spokesperson for the reigning national champions said.
One charge proven
On July 4 of this year, a report was filed against Overmars. The prosecutor accused Overmars of sending sexually suggestive messages and/or photos and videos to several employees, including former players, and of intruding further into the private lives of athletes than necessary.
The disciplinary committee considers one charge proven. The person reporting the complaint had provided more than 300 pages of WhatsApp messages over a period of more than 3.5 years, which were studied by an expert. “The vast majority of those messages (from Marc Overmars to the reporter) are sexually explicit and contain one-sided very explicit material (text and photos).”
The other allegations have not become sufficiently plausible, according to the ISR.
Lots of publicity
When assessing the question of what was an appropriate punishment, the disciplinary committee took into account that the issue had received a lot of publicity and that Overmars had been damaged as a result.
“The disciplinary committee is of the opinion that it is not correct that the board and management of the ISR commented on this matter in this way in the media during the investigation,” the ruling states.
At the same time, the ISR took into account that Overmars, as he himself has stated, has been guilty of inappropriate behavior for a long time and has therefore acted in violation of the Sexual Harassment regulations on several occasions.
“Overmars could have been expected, given his position as statutory director and de facto manager within the Ajax organization, that he would have been aware of the role model he had and that he would have refrained from such behavior, even when he believed that it took place on the basis of reciprocity and voluntariness,” the ISR ruling reads.
The post first appeared on nos.nl