West Ham suspends director for African remark

West Ham United has suspended its director of player recruitment, Tony Henry, after he allegedly said that African players “can have a bad attitude” and “cause mayhem”.

The club said it had “acted swiftly” because it did not tolerate “any type of discrimination”.

Mr Henry allegedly made the comments to a newspaper after it obtained a leaked email in which he had written: “We don’t want any more Africans.”

He sent the email on 27 January to another senior West Ham official and an agent, the Daily Mail reported. It was in response to an inquiry about a footballer of Cameroonian descent.

When the newspaper subsequently approached Mr Henry for comment, he said the club “had three and we felt we didn’t particularly want any more African players”.

He added there was “no reason” for that decision, and it was “nothing racist at all”.

Diafra Sakho

Image: Diafra Sakho ’caused mayhem’, Tony Henry claimed

Expanding on his position, he said: “It’s just sometimes they can have a bad attitude.

“We had problems with Sakho, with Diafra Sakho. We find that when they are not in the team they cause mayhem. It’s nothing against the African race at all.

“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.”

When it was suggested his view could be seen as discriminatory, he asked: “In what way?”

Mr Henry told the newspaper: “Look, we have a great lad in (Cheikhou) Kouyate. He’s brilliant – a great player for us. He’s a good lad.

“But the likes of Sakho have caused mayhem. When he’s not playing… he always wants a new deal. That’s all it was. It was nothing discriminatory at all.”

Tony Henry described Cheikhou Kouyate as 'brilliant - a great player for us'.

Image: Tony Henry described Cheikhou Kouyate as ‘brilliant – a great player for us’

It was not only African players who had caused problems, Mr Henry claimed. He said: “I could say we get offered Russian players. I just find with Russian players that they don’t settle in England.

“It’s like Italians. How many Italians come and settle in England? As a club we are not discriminatory at all.

“If you’ve got too many, they all sit together and it becomes a situation where you can have problems. But then you can have problems with English players. I don’t know what you are driving at.”

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In a statement, a West Ham United 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.”