West Ham Harms The Game

West Ham Harms The Game

I am proud of my Nigerian English because the only people without accent are the English people. If you want the real English, live in England. Once you are out of England, it is fair game. From America to Ghana, South Africa to China, anyone can speak his/her own version of English. Unfortunately, many do not understand that.  For an African, it is more than accent. Your identity is really what is accented. Yes, your color. Who cares if you speak better English than the Chinese man? For our women, it is double whammy: add the color to being a woman, the odds to success drops in many cities around the world. It is unfortunate that discrimination still exists; it ought to be only in history books by now.

One happened in English ball club West Harm and it is troubling: they think African players have “bad” attitude because they ask to be played. So, they would not hire them. Sure, I am not saying that our guys should cause world war if they are benched, but generalizing a race because of 2-3 players, is unfortunate.

West Ham United have suspended their director of player recruitment, Tony Henry, after he left them open to accusations of racism and potentially unlawful discrimination by telling agents in the transfer window that they don’t want to sign any more African players.

After being confronted by Sportsmail, 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.


“West Ham United will not tolerate any kind of discrimination,” the club said in a Thursday statement.

West Ham is not seeing the players; the club is seeing Africa. The players were not arrested for robbery. They did what most sportspeople do: they lobby for playing time. The transfer window exists partly to help accommodate players who can be shipped to other teams because they are revolting for low playing times. The loan scheme in the game addresses that also. Those existed before each of African players came to England to make a living. Yet, teams buy them, cut their time, and when they ask for freedom, it is mayhem.

West Ham midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate posted on Instagram on Thursday: 'African and proud'

Sometimes, I wonder why we see. If not, no one would know who is black, white or red.

I recall a day when a young lady of African descent was to speak in a technical conference I had attended. As she walked to the podium, practically everyone was leaving the room. We were three of African descent in the conference. Her talk was not professionally relevant for me. By the time she turned after climbing the podium, her eyes were on tears. I told her “hold on”. I ran and grabbed the other African. Then came back, and told her to present to us. It was a fair talk; her confidence was already decimated. But she finished. Then the room got back to full-capacity for the next talk. Her problem was double: she came from a historical black school and she was a woman. All the things she did right, in her world, to have gotten her paper accepted, were thrown out by people that saw her color. Yes, we have eyes so that we can discriminate!



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18 thoughts on “West Ham Harms The Game

      1. Sorry, and I’m really not trying to be difficult or churlish here, but do we know for sure that the lady at this technical conference was a victim of being African and female?
        You and your African friend left with the rest – presumably because (as you say) “Her talk was not professionally relevant” for you and perhaps others. At a guess you were all there for a talk you did want to hear and left afterwards.
        Forgive me but it appears you consider others who left as racist and sexist – yet when it comes to you and your friend, it was because “it wasn’t relevant”… Could it be you are projecting racism and sexism on to people who felt just the same as yourself.
        OK, you charitably brought you and your friend back to salve her feelings – but did you give her the impression that people left because she was African and female? If so, your well-meaning act was really misinforming her, making her into a “victim” and condemning others who left as racists and sexists.
        The road to hell is surely paved with good intentions…laid by the well-meaning.

        1. Tarps, this is not theory. I do hope one day you experience practical elements of this; possibly we can have a conversation. Good luck with your analysis.If you have been to a technical conference, you would know that there are tracks. For a paper to be accepted, it means it meets that particular track requirement. And that means there would be audience for that. That was not my track (not my research area) but it was for many. The probability of having a paper which no one has interest is practically close to zero, if judged on blind-model. Let me say this: it is irrelevant if you theorize this. What matters is that we are dealing with lives of people.

          1. I’m not theorising, I’m considering what you said. I’ve been to presentations where everyone was there for a particular speaker and pretty much all left after that person spoke. I’ve been to music events where similar happened. Fortunately the next band on were not people of colour or all female… It happens. The presentation you were at wasn’t your, or your friends “track”. Now, even if some of those leaving were racist or sexist, don’t you think it a little ironic that you have decided that they ALL were. There’s a word for that and it certainly matters that we’re dealing with the lives of people – ALL people.

  1. “the only people without accent are the English people.”
    Ok. Can you clarify who doesn’t have an accent – the Cockneys, people from Yorkshire? Devon? Manchester? Liverpool?
    Try telling someone from Brighton that his countryman from Newcastle doesn’t have an accent.

    1. Jason, I think I did not construct that section well. It is distracting from the message. Simply, my point is this: there must be a small group (no matter how small) that began this language called English. That from that language, we have many variants. Except those people, every other speaker of English is accented when bench-marked with them. So, if we have that small group, we can all agree that we are accented. My point is really that how someone speaks should not disqualify that person since if we put that to global (English) test, nearly everyone is not perfect except that small English group.

    2. Jason apparently you read a whole article and this is what you want to talk about ? Your post has completely reinforced the message of the article. You lead the race to the bottom.

  2. So I was listening to Talk Sport the other day. 1st article in the news was WHU suspending Tony Henry for say players of African backgrounds cause disruption when they don’t get their own way. Harsh I agree. 2nd article in the news was Rayed Marez saying he is going on strike as he didn’t get his move to Man City. I love the irony!

    1. Perhaps Real Madrid should stop hiring European players because Ronaldo is not happy that Messi is earning more. Or ManU stop hiring English players because Rooney was benched and he wanted a trade to Everton. This is part of the game. No one wants to train and seat on the bench. Footvball decisions have to be made. But you deal each case one by one. The problem with Tony was he generalized about 2-4 guys into a continent. He did not see the men, he saw a race. That is the problem. African players did not start rebellion for non-playing time. It is part of global sports. That is why you loan, sometimes, to get the guy out of you. That was happening even before Africans started playing in Europe. Everyone knew the issue with Beckham leaving ManU to Real Madrid. Sir Alex Ferguson did not stop hiring English players. Racism is when you extrapolate and generalize.

  3. Well people react to experience. Sometimes putting that reaction down as an “ism” avoids another person’s reality and unreasonably stigmatises too. A black Canadian girlfriend once asked me if I was more cautious of a bunch of teen/early twenties black guys walking toward me down the road, or a bunch of white guys… If it as the former, why? My answer was firstly that in the area there was a lot of black street crime and street crime tends to be more of a black thing (the demographics of crime are a touchy subject, admittedly – even though they invove all backgrounds) and my personal experience backed that up. Being in a group implied “gang”. The odd white kid in such a group would not make a difference. Conversely, if a bunch of white kids were walking towards me and there was a black kid or two amidst them, I’d be less concerned. Of course with either group demeanour would come into it. If they were black Africans I’d probably be less concerned too, again because of statistics and experience.
    Pragmatically, we learn from and react to experience. That shouldn’t corrupt people into becoming prejudiced but neither should it be dismissed… It’s difficult. Now if West Ham have the experience of African players being problematic and “hard work” then the question is surely “is this an African thing or a human thing”? If it’s the latter (and humans can be problematic) then being African is irrelevant. If it’s a cultural thing and African players are difficult when in number i.e. verifying each other, then I can at least understand how this all came about. When someone is putting a team (or an army) together they don’t want to get too embroiled in cliques that cause problems, so decisions get made. The West Ham person concerned could have kept quiet and just not taken on so many African players and then who would be the wiser? Would there still be “descrimination”? Does “discriminate” have to be in the negative? People make choices. They shouldn’t be based on prejudice but they have to be pragmatic and based on experience. Problem for a football team is that you live with costly bad choices for some time, so “erring on the safe side” might come across as discriminatory…if the person responsible airs their thoughts.
    Sure everyone wants to play and it’s great that they are enthusiastic and want to move their careers forward – but it’s a management choice and if there are cliques that make it an issue, what’s a business to do? Keep quiet and do what’s required maybe?
    Tricky old conundrums…

  4. Another question could be: Do we know what the nature of this “mayhem” was? OK, you might be right but if you weren’t there, you might be projecting. Do we know if Ronaldo and Messi caused “mayhem”or had a bit of a gripe? I’ve no idea so surely it’s an unsound comparison until we have a fuller picture…and perhaps premature to put an “ism” on it…

    1. Tarps, you have answered my question and made my point. I did not read that Ronaldo’s case resulted to Real not hiring from Europe. We do not need to know what Ronaldo did. All that matters is that Real did not stop hiring from Portugal or Europe.An African, George Weah, the President of Liberia, was at the peak of global football as FIFA Best Footballer at a time. Yet, in the same Africa are some that asked for more playing time. If you begin to treat all Africans because of the latter cohort, that is bad. That is the point I am making. You must work not to generalize. Deal with each person by his action, just as Ronaldo is treated. It should not be different for Africa.

      1. Oh it’s not just Africa.
        Again, we do not know the nature of the “mayhem” and how it compares to (eg) Ronaldo and Messi wanting more time – so how can we say?
        For all we know said players maybe did cause mayhem. Maybe African mayhem isn’t perceived as mayhem in Africa. Maybe European or Asian or whatever behaviour could be considered as mayhem in Africa? One persons mayhem in one country could be normality in another country. We weren’t at West Ham so who knows?
        Teams in countries pay their money and make their choice. Players have a choice too. They all want what works out best for them. They can all take it or leave it.
        Agreed that some generalisations can be unhealthy and unhelpful (everyone walking out of the presentation was racist and sexist except me and my African friend who left but came back as an act of charity) but each case on the facts. People wont ignore their experience and sometimes it’s healthier to keep it in the open and let everyone own their ***t …and not don the mantle of “victim”.

          1. Certainly these are all issues that we can all, without exception, be guilty of and we have to be vigilant that we are not becoming that which we see in others – as well as not making victims of ourselves or others. It is indeed our world – we have a long way ahead.
            Have a great day too and thank you for the reasoned discourse.

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