West Ham suspend director of player recruitment over racism claim
Tony Henry reportedly said African players ‘have a bad attitude and ‘cause mayhem’
West Ham’s London Stadium. Photograph: John Walton/PA
West Ham have suspended their director of player recruitment Tony Henry while they investigate claims he told agents the club do not want to sign any more African players.
According to the Daily Mail, Henry said the Hammers wanted to limit the number of African players because “they have a bad attitude” and “cause mayhem” when they are not in the team.
Henry, it was claimed, suggested it was a policy supported by club management — but insisted West Ham had “nothing against the African race at all”.
The club announced on Thursday morning that Henry has been suspended while an investigation takes place.
A West Ham spokesman said: “The club can confirm that director of player recruitment Tony Henry has been suspended pending a full and thorough investigation.
“West Ham United will not tolerate any type of discrimination and has, therefore, acted swiftly due to the serious nature of these claims.
“The West Ham United family is an inclusive one where, regardless of gender, age, ability, race, religion or sexual orientation, everybody feels welcome and included.
“The club will make no further comment until the investigation has been concluded.”
The Mail reported that Henry sent an email on January 27th, in response to an inquiry about a footballer of Cameroonian descent, to another senior West Ham official and an agent.
In the email, Henry allegedly wrote: ‘We don’t want any more Africans and he’s not good enough.“
When asked by the Mail why that was the case, Henry reportedly highlighted “problems” with their former striker Diafra Sakho, who left West Ham to join French club Rennes on Monday.
“We find that when they (Africans) are not in the team they cause mayhem. It’s nothing against the African race at all,” he allegedly said.
“I mean, look, there are top African players. There’s not a problem with them. It’s just sometimes they cause a lot of problems when they are not playing, as we had with Diafra.
“He’s left, so great. It’s nothing personal at all.”
Asked then if he thought his comments amounted to a slight on African players, Henry apparently replied “no” and praised the efforts of West Ham’s Senegal midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate.
Kouyate posted a picture of himself on Instagram on Thursday morning with the caption “African and proud”.
The Professional Footballers’ Association welcomed West Ham’s move to suspend Henry and expressed serious concerns over the issues raised.
A statement said: “We are shocked at the reported comments published in the media this morning. The PFA strongly condemn any such views and there is no place for them in football.
“The swift action by West Ham is encouraging and we trust they will deal with this in keeping with football’s position on all matters of equality and anti-racism.”
The Football Association is also now investigating the matter, Press Association Sport understands.
The governing body could request copies of e-mails and written documents as it looks at the allegations of any discrimination by West Ham.