In a fairly shocking report from the Daily Mail, West Ham transfer director Tony Henry essentially admitted the club has no interest in African players. And he doesn’t see what the problem is.
Via the Daily Mail:
After being confronted by Sportsmail, the club’s director of player recruitment, Tony Henry, made the shocking admission that West Ham do indeed want to limit the number of African players because ‘they have a bad attitude’ and ‘cause mayhem’ when they are not in the team.
Lord Ouseley, chairperson of Kick It Out, described an email sent by Henry — and leaked to this newspaper — as potentially unlawful.
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 wrote: ‘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.’
Okay, so even granting whatever out-of-context benefits you want to give that statement, “We don’t want any more Africans” is horrifying. Henry, though, wasn’t done:
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.
Holy shit! “It’s nothing racist at all” is the exact kind of thing that’s normally followed by something horrendously racist, and it was no different here. Not only is it incredibly prejudicial to grouping players racially into any standardized set of behaviors, but to outright say you’re not considering African players as potential additions to your team? That’s essentially the dictionary definition of discrimination.
West Ham added a statement which you can find at the end of the Daily Mail piece, in effect trying to point out their commitment to opposing racism while also not admitting any guilt as of yet; they do say they’re attempting to investigate the situation, although the guy just came right out and said it, it shouldn’t be that hard to investigate, at this point.
It does leave the club open to legal challenge as well, which means a likely quick exit for Henry. Hopefully, anyway.