Former coach and players allege bounty program in youth football - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Former coach and players allege bounty program in youth football league

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LA PORTE CITY (KWWL) -

Coaches for a California Pop Warner football team have been accused of offering players cash in exchange for hurting players on opposing teams.

John Zanelli, a former assistant coach for the team of 10 and 11-year olds, said other coaches on the team offered the boys $20 cash bounties for big hits on opposing players.

One player from the 2011 team told CNN the coaches discussed cash incentives for big hits and that, after games, players would vote on which teammate would receive the money. He also said he saw a coach give a player cash.

Darren Crawford, head coach of the Pop Warner Cobras, calls those claims nonsense.

"Nothing like that ever happened on my team," he said.

When asked if he ever suggested or paid for a player to hurt a player on another team, Crawford said, "Absolutely not."

Late Thursday, the national Pop Warner organization suspended Crawford and the Tustin league president.

The allegations of the bounty program have spread across the country.

"I think it defeats the whole purpose of amateur sports," said Troy Renaud of La Porte City.

Renaud's son plays high school football in La Porte City. He said he can't imagine any misconduct taking place on the team.

"Winning is important, but it seems like building character in the young men comes first," he said.

Head Coach of Union High School's football team Joe Hadachek said sportsmanship is the team's priority.

"We have got to be great sports," he said.

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