Al Hilal coach says FIFA Club World Cup format unfair

Al Hilal beat Al Jazira 6-1 to set up the clash with the Champions League winner, whereas Chelsea was exempt to that stage, as is the case with all European representatives.

Al Hilal coach Leonardo Jardim during the FIFA Club World Cup.   -  REUTERS

Al Hilal coach Leonardo Jardim has criticised the format of FIFA's Club World Cup on the eve of his side's semi-final clash with Chelsea, saying it is too weighted in favour of Europe's heavyweights.

The Saudi Arabian club beat Al Jazira 6-1 to set up the clash with the Champions League winner, whereas Chelsea was exempt to that stage, as is the case with all European representatives.

"I'd like to give a warning to FIFA because I find it unfair some teams have to play four matches in eight days and other teams, the best, have to play two matches with their teams rested," he told a new conference on Tuesday.

"There should be better care with the match schedule to recover so Asia and South America can have ambition to win this cup," Jardim, who was using a translator, added.

South American teams, like those from Europe, also get a buy through to the semifinals, but Jardim's assertion that Asian clubs are disadvantaged by the schedule has some merit.

Only a handful of clubs outside of Europe and South America have reached the final of the competition.

TP Mazembe, of Democratic Republic of Congo, lost to Inter Milan in 2010, Morocco's Raja Casablanca lost to Bayern Munich in 2013, Kashima Antlers of Japan reached the 2016 final against Real Madrid and El-Ain from the United Arab Emirates were runner-up to Real Madrid in 2018.

Every final so far has featured a team from Europe or South America with the majority being contested between teams from those continents.

Chelsea will be huge favourite to beat Al Hilal while in the other semifinal it would be a major surprise if Brazil's Libertadores champion Palmeiras do not beat Egypt's Al Ahly.

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