West Ham United has suspended director of player recruitment Tony Henry "pending a full and thorough investigation'' over claims he said the club would not sign any more African players.
West Ham launched an investigation into Henry after the Daily Mail obtained emails in which Henry allegedly wrote that the Premier League club wanted to limit the number of African players because "they have a bad attitude'' and "cause mayhem'' when they are not starting.
Henry, the report says, suggested it was a policy that club management supported -- but insisted West Ham had "nothing against the African race at all.''
The Football Association opened an investigation on Thursday, reportedly under Rule F2, which covers their powers of inquiry. English football's governing body could request copies of emails and written documents as they look at the allegations of any discrimination by West Ham.
A statement from West Ham on Thursday morning read: "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 newspaper reported that Henry sent an email on Jan. 27 -- in response to an inquiry about a footballer of Cameroonian descent -- to another senior West Ham official and an agent.
According to the report, Henry 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 [Africans] are not in the team they cause mayhem. It's nothing against the African race at all," Henry told the Mail.
"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 whether 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 on Thursday morning with the caption "African and proud."
Henry also reportedly questioned how well Russians and Italians have adapted to the Premier League, adding: "If you've got too many, they all sit together and it becomes a situation where you can have problems."
The Professional Footballers' Association welcomed West Ham's move to suspend Henry and expressed serious concerns over the situation.
A statement said: "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. 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."