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Florida, Georgia condemn antisemitic messages in Jacksonville

Antisemitic message projected outside TIAA Bank Field after top-ranked Bulldogs defeat Gators
Florida Gators receiver Justin Shorter makes catch in front of Georgia Bulldogs cornerback Kelee Ringo, Oct. 29, 2022
Posted at 11:57 AM, Oct 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-30 12:50:19-04

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida and Georgia issued a joint statement Sunday condemning an antisemitic message that was projected outside TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville after the top-ranked Bulldogs defeated the Gators 42-20 a day earlier.

The message concurred with the antisemitic remarks Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, made earlier this month.

A joint statement released by the rival Southeastern Conference institutions said both schools "strongly condemn the antisemitic hate speech projected outside TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville after the Florida-Georgia football game Saturday night and the other antisemitic messages that have appeared in Jacksonville."

"The University of Florida and the University of Georgia together denounce these and all acts of antisemitism and other forms of hatred and intolerance," the statement continued. "We are proud to be home to strong and thriving Jewish communities at UGA and UF, and we stand together against hate."

Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart and Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier speak before game, Oct. 29, 2022
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and Florida head coach Billy Napier talk at midfield before their game Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla.

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, whose team was in London preparing for Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos, also issued a statement denouncing the messages.

"I'm personally dismayed to learn of antisemitic rhetoric and messages that marred the experience Saturday at the Florida-Georgia game," Khan said. "I know this is not representative of our community, but it happened and it's outrageous. It's hurtful and wrong. It has to stop. I'm asking everyone to make it their mission to end the ignorance and hatred. Let's be better."

Florida and Georgia have played in Jacksonville every year since 1933 except for three occasions (1943 because of World War II and 1994 and 1995 when the teams played a home-and-home series while the Gator Bowl was being demolished).

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has been outspoken about wanting to move the game back to campus, calling it a recruiting disadvantage to play at a neutral site.

The current contract with the city runs through next year with an option for two more seasons.