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West Ham suspend head of recruitment over racism allegations


London (AFP) – West Ham on Thursday suspended director of recruitment Tony Henry while the Premier League club investigates allegations that he made racist remarks about African players.

According to the Daily Mail newspaper, 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 that Henry had been suspended while an investigation takes place.

“The club can confirm that director of player recruitment Tony Henry has been suspended pending a full and thorough investigation,” West Ham said in a statement.

“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 Mail reported that Henry sent an email on January 27, 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 are not in the team they cause mayhem,” he allegedly said.

Henry reportedly denied he was being discriminatory and highlighted Senegal’s Cheikhou Kouyate as “a great player for us”.

Kouyate posted a picture of himself on Instagram on Thursday morning with the caption “African and proud”.

Herman Ouseley, chairman of anti-discrimination group Kick It Out, told the Daily Mail that “giving instruction to someone to discriminate against a person is unlawful”, and that he expected the club to take action.

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) welcomed West Ham’s move to suspend Henry and expressed its concern over the allegations.

“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,” said a PFA statement.

“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.”

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