By Mark Gleeson(REUTERS) – The long road to the 2022 World Cup finals begins in the footballing backwaters of Mongolia tomorrow, as the first games that count towards qualification for Qatar are hosted in Asia.Mongolia, who have only ever won a single World Cup qualifying match, host Brunei Darussalam in the first of six first-round qualifiers across Asia, which also serve as early round eliminators for the next Asian Cup in 2023.The match takes place at the Mongolian Football Federation stadium in Ulan Bator at 0900 GMT, before other games in Laos, Macau, Cambodia and Bhutan and one on Friday in Malaysia. The arena, built from FIFA funding, has a 5,000-capacity and an artificial pitch against the backdrop of the Mongolian steppes.It is the second time in a row Mongolia, 187th in the FIFA rankings, are involved in the first game of a World Cup qualifying campaign. They were beaten 4-1 away by Timor-Leste in the Russia 2018 preliminaries but the result was later expunged when it was discovered the home team was packed with Brazilians.Previous World Cup qualifying campaigns have kicked off on side-by-side pitches in Samoa (for South Africa 2010) and in front of 100 spectators on neutral turf in Trinidad and Tobago when hosts Montserrat lost 5-2 to Belize for Brazil 2014.FIFA decided this year to break with tradition by not holding a qualifying round draw ceremony in the upcoming host nation.“Given the fact that the 2022 World Cup will take place in November-December and that each confederation plans a different timeline for their qualifiers to the tournament, it has been agreed that a preliminary draw will be held separately for each one of them,” a FIFA spokesman told Reuters yesterday.“The Asian Football Confederation has already started the qualifying competition and a second draw is scheduled to take place in July.“Discussions involving the other confederations and the draws for their preliminary competitions are currently ongoing and further details will follow in due course.”
After featuring the Redskins prominently in promotional packages for “Madden 21” — including a clip of virtual Chase Young rushing the QB in the official trailer — EA Sports announced it would strike the team name and logo entirely from its video game.In place of the Redskins brand, the Aug. 25 release will carry a “generic Washington team” with different logos and jerseys. The Redskins have yet to announce their next name and appearance, so EA Sports will need to take creative liberties in the design process. “We are pleased to see Washington’s decision to change their team name and visual identity,” EA wrote in a statement. “We are quickly working to update Madden NFL 21 to feature a generic Washington team, while we await final word on the updated team name and logo design.”EA Sports has released ratings for “Madden 21” throughout this week, drawing ire from some players for its choices but generally increasing excitement for its upcoming release.Washington, meanwhile, has been rocked by another scandal this week when The Washington Post released a report alleging more than a decade of sexual harassment from top employees toward female workers within the organization. Disc versions of the game, which are already in production, will arrive with Redskins insignia but are expected to be altered via online update.MORE: Timeline of Washington football dysfunctionWashington recently opted to pursue a brand change after outcry over its racially insensitive imagery became a financial liability for owner Dan Snyder, who had previously vowed to never back down from his fight to keep the Redskins name intact. When top sponsors urged the club to alter its name and logo, such a shift was essentially unavoidable.