West Ham United have left themselves open to accusations of racism and potentially unlawful discrimination after telling agents in the transfer window that they don’t want to sign any more African players.
In an email printed by the Daily Mail, recruitment director to the board, Tony Henry Henry wrote of an unnamed player: ‘We don’t want any more Africans and he’s not good enough. I sent Thomas to watch him and the other lad last week and he said no. If Palace take them good luck.’
Henry then confirmed it was true and suggested it was a policy supported by club management. ‘Yeah,’ Henry replied. ‘Because we had three and we felt we didn’t particularly want any more African players.’
Asked why, Henry replied: ‘Erm, no reason. It’s nothing racist at all. 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.’
Asked if he thought his view was discriminatory towards African players, Henry asked: ‘In what way?’
Asked then if he thought his comments amounted to a slight on African players, he replied: ‘No. I don’t know what you are trying to get at here. All I said was, 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.
‘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.’
West Ham has responded to say “We take any allegations of discrimination extremely seriously and are now in the process of ascertaining the full facts behind this accusation.”
By Hugh Southon and Sean Whetstone
There is absolutely no defence for the comments included in Tony Henry’s e mail and the board needs to make a total condemnation of its contents or face the consequences.
We believe these remarks are utterly disgraceful and have brought the club’s name into total disrepute. The West Ham board must explain fully and precisely where they stand – nothing else will do.
We at ClaretandHugh cannot stand by and say nothing because we believe the alleged remarks of Mr Henry’s are discriminatory and have no place in our society.
A full and frank response is required from the board of directors forthwith.