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Teen's suit says coaches made him eat pizza despite religion

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Posted at 5:23 PM, Dec 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-31 17:23:43-05

CANTON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio high school football player who says coaches forced him to eat a pizza covered with pepperoni grease in violation of his religious beliefs is suing his former district and ousted coaches.

The athlete says in the federal civil rights suit filed this week that Canton coaches ordered the athlete to eat the pizza as punishment for missing an offseason workout despite being told he doesn't eat pork or pork residue as a member of the Hebrew Israelite religious faith.

The coaches say that he chose to remove pepperoni and eat the pizza rather than an alternative food and that they weren't aware it violated his religious beliefs.

In a statement to the Repository newspaper, Canton City School District Superintendent Jeff Talbert said the school board would address the family's claims through the legal process, the Associated Press reported.

After the allegations, the news outlet reported the district suspended several coaches.

The school board also did not renew four coaches' contracts, and three assistant coaches were deemed ineligible for future coaching positions.