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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | Postcript

Times staff writers take a look back at the Centennial Games

August 05, 1996|MIKE HISERMAN

A boy of maybe 14 was alone, kicking a ball into a soccer goal outside a residence hall at the University of Georgia in Athens. Soon fans from the men's gold-medal game between Nigeria and Argentina began filing past.

Five Argentines, some with painted faces and flags draped over their backs, asked if they could join in. The game grew and each goal was heartily celebrated with pumped fists, belly slides and plenty of woofing. Then a small group of Nigerians approached. Could they play? Of course. Half on one side, half on the other. Fans who had been bitter rivals in the afternoon were now joining forces. Nigerians, their faces painted green, slapped congratulations to teammates in blue.

"In there we fight. Out here we play," the goalie, an Argentine, said. "We have this game in common, all of us."

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