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Ohio Football Player Says Coaches Forced Him To Eat Pork Despite His Religious Beliefs

CANTON, Ohio (AP) — An attorney for an Ohio high school football player who says coaches forced him to eat pork in violation of his religious beliefs for missing a voluntary workout has announced plans to sue the school district.

Canton McKinley head football coach Marcus Wattley and seven assistant coaches were suspended last week by the Canton City School District after the 17-year-old reported what happened to him on May 24, The Canton Repository reported.

Attorney Ed Gilbert said Tuesday that the teen and his family are members of the Hebrew Israeli religious faith and do not eat pork.

The teen, who skipped a voluntary workout four days earlier while nursing a sore shoulder, was ordered to sit in the middle of the gym and eat an entire pepperoni pizza, Gilbert said. He was allowed to remove the pepperoni and some of the cheese, but pork residue remained, Gilbert said.

The teen would have been subjected to additional drills and his status on the team might have been jeopardized if he had not followed Wattley's order, Gilbert said.

Canton City Schools Superintendent Jeff Talbert announced the suspension of the coaches last week. He declined to comment about the allegations made Tuesday by Gilbert and the teen's family.

(Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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