West Ham have sacked Tony Henry after their director of player recruitment apparently told an agent in an email that the club “don’t want any more Africans”.
Henry was suspended on Thursday pending an investigation. A West Ham spokesman said on Friday: “West Ham United have today terminated the contract of director of player recruitment, Tony Henry, with immediate effect following his unacceptable comments that were widely reported in the press.
“Our action follows a full and thorough investigation. West Ham United will not tolerate any type of discrimination. 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.”
Henry made further remarks to the Daily Mail in which he claimed some African players “caused mayhem” when not selected. He denied the policy was racist and suggested it was supported by club management. West Ham have said that is not the case.
On Friday David Moyes reiterated that there was no policy at West Ham against signing African players and that the club had tried to bring in two on deadline day. “The comments are wrong,” Moyes said. “We were signing two players from Africa on deadline day. I can only say they’re wrong. We’re a multinational club and we always want to sign good-quality players.
“You can see the players we sign, you can see the players we have signed over the years. We look to buy the best available and it doesn’t really matter where they’re from to me at all. I have never experienced prejudice in a club’s transfer policy, never ever. Not at all.”
Moyes said the incident has not caused ruptures within the club. “I don’t think it’s had any effect on morale. I’ve spoken with one or two of the African players and they seem fine. They’ve trained well the last couple of days. Morale is good because we’re on the back of a good run. The players are doing really well.”
The two putative signings Moyes referred to were Leicester’s Islam Slimani and Ibrahim Amadou of Lille. Amadou, a Cameroon-born midfielder, ended up staying at his club but Slimani moved to Newcastle. The Guardian has reported a claim that Leicester would not consider letting the Algerian forward move to West Ham after remarks made by the vice-chairman, Karren Brady, in a Sun newspaper column. “It’s not a question for me,” said Moyes, who has worked with Henry at Everton and West Ham.
Moyes was at pains to point out his history of working with African players, observing he signed the South Africa midfielder Steven Pienaar three times, at Everton and Sunderland. “I have never had a problem with African players,” he said. “I loved working with Pienaar, Joseph Yobo grew on us, Yakubu was a great boy. I brought in Didier Ndong and Papy Djilobodji at Sunderland. And Victor Anichebe wouldn’t be happy if I forgot him. I’ve worked with African players during all of my time as a manager. I’ve had good African players and bad African players. But that’s no different from good Scottish, or bad Scottish.”