Ajax announce 'culture shift' in wake of Overmars scandal

20:51 EAT 03/05/2022
Overmars Ajax 2019
The Eredivisie club will appoint a committee to aide in the process of changing the culture in the wake of the former director's behaviour

Ajax have promised to work on a "cultural" change within the club in the wake of the scandal that saw Marc Overmars resign from his role as director of football affairs.

Overmars quit Ajax in February after female employees at the club reported inappropriate behaviour from the club legend.

An independent investigation was performed by the Bezemer & Schubad agency in response to Overmars' boundary-crossing and the club shared their response to the report on Tuesday.

What have Ajax said about the investigation into Overmars' behaviour?

It was revealed that multiple women came forward to report inappropriate behaviour from Overmars.

Ajax say that they "aim to create a safer work and sports environment within all parts of the club" by following the recommendations of the report.

The Dutch giants will appoint an expert committee to help with the process and conduct an independent survey among the club's employees.

"The investigation has made it clear that a number of women within Ajax have been confronted with undesirable behaviour," Ajax's statement read.

"This ranges from bad jokes and derogatory or hurtful comments, to an unwanted arm around the shoulder and other intrusive behavior."

Edwin van der Sar, Ajax's CEO, said: "I would like to give a big compliment to the women who have already come together with initiatives.

"It is good to start a discussion about this subject from practice. We also like to use their input in the action plan and in the supervisory committee.

"Trust in each other is a key concept in developing a safer culture and organization. I am personally committed to this.

"Employees must absolutely feel the security to speak out and express their opinion in the daily practice.

"That must be the effect of the intended culture change. We will work very hard on that together and we will also be held accountable for that."

What will Ajax do to change the club's culture?

While the report itself has not been made public, Ajax have shared some of the recommendations made by the agency.

The supervisory board have expressed the desire to make a safer working environment.

"The report's main recommendation is the establishment of a broadly composed, independent and expert advisory committee for the culture change process," the statement from the club read.

"The aim of this committee is to initiate behavioral change processes and to monitor the policy that is used by the management and HR to create a safer working and sports climate.

"The supervisory committee instructs the management to draw up and elaborate an action plan."

The plan, the club says, will focus on the following points:

  • The approach to undesired behavior must be implemented in a structured manner and must be aimed at prevention.
  • Good reception and handling of reports about undesirable behavior by confidential advisers. They must be accessible, well-trained and well known within the organization; the same applies to mediation options.
  • Formal complaints must be dealt with adequately by a complaints committee.
  • Responsibility for policy lies with the top and top management must visibly and audibly commit to the policy.
  • Managers, coaches and supervisors must familiarise themselves with the theme of undesirable behavior and be trained in tackling it through awareness training, including training for bystanders.

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