West Ham's director of player recruitment Tony Henry has admitted that the club have told agents that they will not sign any more African players for their first team, citing 'attitude problems' and 'mayhem' when players from the world's second largest continent don't get game time.
An email leaked to MailOnline Sport showed Henry emailing a senior West Ham official and player agent saying: "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."
In a staggering display of ignorance rarely outwardly displayed by club officials, Henry doubled down on his viewpoint when confronted by the outlet when pressed - having initially denied that there was a club policy against signing any more African players.
When he was informed that it was understood he had told multiple agents of his views, he continued: "Yeah. Because we had three and we felt we didn’t particularly want any more African players."
Pushed for his reasoning he 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."
Some African players might find comfort in Henry's assurances that there is 'nothing personal' in him refusing to sign them on the basis of a generalisation he has made of more than a billion people, but...probably not, actually. Because, once again, he has admitted to refusing to sign African players on the basis of the continent they come from. Which is mind-blending levels of racist.
When asked if he believed his comments were a slight on African footballers, he blundered on - apparently blind to the fact that his subconscious could lecture a course in how to manufacture institutional racism in an actual institution.
"No," he said. "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."
Lord Ouseley, chairperson of anti-racism campaigners Kick It Out, said of Henry's original email: "From my point of view, firstly, that is clearly unacceptable now in football. But secondly it’s unlawful to make a statement like that.
"It’s clearly discriminatory but giving instruction to someone to discriminate against a person is unlawful. Kick It Out would not expect this from any football club official and I would expect that club to take the necessary action."
UPDATE (9:30AM): West Ham have suspended Tony Henry pending an internal investigation. A spokesperson 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.”