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FIFA bans former Arsenal star from world football for at least a year

FIFA has handed a two-year ban to former Arsenal player for inappropriate messages sent to a female colleague.

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Former Arsenal star Marc Overmars is set to face a global ban from any position in professional football for at least a year due to allegations of sending ‘inappropriate messages’ to female colleagues during his tenure at the Dutch club.

The 50-year-old, who had initially been handed a two-year ban by an independent Dutch sports tribunal, with one year suspended, faced an extended sanction after FIFA took over the case from the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB). 

In an official statement, FIFA confirmed, “Following a request by the KNVB, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee has decided to extend the sanction imposed by KNVB on Mr. Marc Overmars to have worldwide effect.”

Overmars, who left his position as director of football at Ajax in February 2022, admitted to engaging in “unacceptable” behaviour, acknowledging allegations of sending inappropriate messages and photographs to several women affiliated with the Amsterdam-based club.

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The former Arsenal and Barcelona winger, currently serving as the technical director of Belgian champions Royal Antwerp, expressed remorse in his departure statement, stating, “I am ashamed. Certainly, for someone in my position, this behavior is unacceptable. I now see that, but it is too late. I see no other option but to leave Ajax.”

Overmars, renowned for his illustrious playing career, made over 130 appearances for Ajax between 1992 and 1997, clinching three league titles, the Dutch cup, and the Champions League. His successful career continued with stints at Arsenal, where he won the double in his first season, and later at Barcelona.

Despite dealing with a persistent knee injury, Overmars announced his retirement in July 2004 but made a surprising comeback in the 2008-09 season with Go Ahead Eagles. His post-playing career saw him return to Ajax as a youth coach in 2011 before ascending to the role of director of football a year later. During his decade-long tenure, Ajax reached the 2019 Champions League semi-finals and generated substantial profits in the transfer market by selling promising young talents.

A spokesperson for Overmars informed NRC that the ex-Arsenal forward had been notified of the FIFA ruling but was not prepared to comment. There is potential for an appeal against the decision.

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