According to reports, 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 yesterday that Henry has been suspended while an investigation takes place.
A West Ham spokesman 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.”
The Daily 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 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 (Africans) are not in the team they cause mayhem. It’s nothing against the African race at all,” he allegedly said.
“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 then if he thought his comments amounted to a slight on African players, Henry apparently replied “no” and praised the efforts of West Ham’s Senegal midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate.
Kouyate posted a picture of himself on Instagram yesterday morning with the caption “African and proud”.
The Professional Footballers’ Association welcomed West Ham’s move to suspend Henry and expressed serious concerns over the issues raised.
The FA is also now investigating the matter and could request copies of emails and written documents as it looks at the allegations of any discrimination by West Ham.