West Ham reject claims of racism

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The Independent Online

THE WEST HAM manager, Harry Redknapp, has hit back at claims by Eyal Berkovic that the club is "racist and run like a pub team".

THE WEST HAM manager, Harry Redknapp, has hit back at claims by Eyal Berkovic that the club is "racist and run like a pub team".

The Israeli international, who left West Ham this summer to join Celtic, makes the claims in his autobiography which is published this week. But Redknapp said: "All of this is ridiculous. I am very disappointed and I don't really want to get involved because it will only carry on and give more publicity to the book."

Berkovic based his views on the way he was treated following his infamous training-ground bust-up with John Hartson. "They tried to cover it up," Berkovic said. "There were only two strong men in West Ham, the general manager, Peter Storrie, who has now left and the manager, Harry Redknapp. One of them wanted to have the story published and the other wanted it swept under the carpet. I hated it from the moment I arrived.

"They do not like outsiders, and the number of those foreigners that succeed at West Ham can be counted on the fingers of one hand."

Redknapp believes he did everything he could to help the player during his time at Upton Park and blames any problems he may have had on the fact that he refused to mix at the club. "Eyal was a loner here and just didn't want to mix with anyone else," he said. "He didn't understand team spirit, and if you ask the players at Southampton I am sure they will say the same.

"There was no ill-feeling towards Eyal whatsoever. I let him go when he wanted to. I could have stood in his way."

West Ham deny that they are racist in any way and are particularly proud of their Football in the Community prog-rammes. The club's press officer, Peter Stewart, said: "West Ham entirely refute the suggestion from Eyal that we are in any way racist. No club in the Premiership could work as hard as we do at stamping it out."

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