Gianni Infantino: Fifa president watches Highland League champions Cove Rangers

Gianni Infantino: Fifa president watches Highland League champions Cove Rangers

13/02/2019 - 16:28

Fifa president Gianni Infantino was among the crowd at the Balmoral Stadium on Saturday as Cove Rangers beat Highland League rivals Nairn County.

The Italian was in Aberdeen for the International Football Association Board’s annual general meeting.

He was invited to the game by Scottish FA president Alan McRae, who is also honorary president of Cove Rangers.

The champions moved level with leaders Brora Rangers after goals from Jordon Brown, Daniel Park and Scott Ross.

Greg Clarke, chairman of the English FA, Kieran O’Connor, president of FA Wales, and David Martin the Irish FA president were also in attendance, along with SFA vice president Rod Petrie, chairman of Hibernian.

Talking at the Ifab gathering, Infantino said Scottish referees are at a “high level” and spoke of video assistant referees as a “success story”.

Infantino, who is pushing to expand the World Cup to 48 teams, added that it was “certainly feasible to introduce VAR to Scotland if there is a wish by the Scottish FA, the league and the clubs” for it.

The Fifa president is not staying around for Sunday’s Scottish Cup tie between Aberdeen and Rangers since he is attending a meeting in Oman.

Light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones dominated Anthony Smith in a gruelling five-round fight to defend his title at UFC 235 in Las Vegas.

Two-time champion and overwhelming favourite Jones, 31, picked fellow American Smith apart to earn a unanimous decision.

Jones dominated all five rounds of their main event bout, comprehensively outstriking and outgrappling the 30-year-old.

Despite receiving a two-point deduction for an illegal knee in the fourth round, Jones won by a wide margin, with all three judges scoring the bout 48-44 at the T-Mobile Arena.

Victory extended Jones’ undefeated record in world title fights to 13 as he successfully defended his title for the first time since recapturing the belt from Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 in December.

“Hats off to Anthony Smith,” Jones said. “Now I see why they call him ‘Lionheart’.

“I have never had someone talk to me while I was hitting him. This guy is so durable – he’s like a Terminator. He did a great job.”

The fight did not match Jones’ vintage displays during his previous world title run, and he admitted he did not deliver the performance he hoped for.

“Man, this MMA thing is really hard,” he said.

“Some days you’re going to look amazing and some days at work you’re not going to perform at the level you hold yourself to.

Before UFC 235, Jones hinted at a move up to heavyweight to face old foe and current champion Daniel Cormier for a third time.

But after beating Smith, Jones suggested an extended stay at light-heavyweight could be an option – with a new crop of contenders, led by Brazilian knockout artist Thiago ‘Marreta’ Santos, beginning to emerge.

“Right now I’m going to enjoy this win, go back to the drawing board and figure out ways to get better,” Jones said.

“There’s a lot of young talent in the UFC – so many guys coming up, so many guys that are looking unbelievable – and that’s going to be such a challenge in itself.”

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