UEFA

UEFA scraps away-goals rule in European club competitions

European football's governing body has announced that the away-goals rule will no longer be used in its continental club competitions, starting in 2021/22.

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UEFA scraps away-goals rule in European club competitions
POOL REUTERS

UEFA has announced it is scrapping the away-goals rule in all European club competitions, in a historic move that follows years of calls from coaches and analysts for its removal. The rule change will take effect from next season. “Following the recommendation of the UEFA Club Competitions Committee and the UEFA Women’s Football Committee, the UEFA Executive Committee has today approved a proposal to remove the so-called away goals rule from all UEFA club competitions (men, women and youth) as of the qualifying phases of the 2021/22 competitions,” European football’s governing body said in a statement on Thursday.

Extra time, penalties now the only way to decide tie if scores level

The away-goals rule had led to a tendency for home sides to focus on avoiding conceding and, it was argued, gave the visiting team in the second leg an unfair advantage if the tie went to extra time. “With the decision to remove this rule, ties in which the two teams score the same number of goals over the two legs would be not decided on the number of goals scored away, but two 15-minute periods of extra time are played at the end of the second leg and in case the teams score the same number of goals or no goals during this extra time, kicks from the penalty mark would determine the team which qualifies to the next stage of the competition,” UEFA added in its statement.

UEFA also explained that there is a clear statistical justification for the abolition of the away-goals rule. “Statistics from the mid-1970s until now show a clear trend of continuous reduction in the gap between the number of home/away wins (from 61%/19% to 47%/30%) and the average number of goals per match scored at home/away (from 2.02/0.95 to 1.58/1.15) in men’s competitions, whereas since 2009/10, the average goals per game have remained very steady in the UEFA Women’s Champions League with the overall average of 1.92 for home teams and 1.6 for away teams,” the organisation said.

Ceferin: Away-goals rule "now runs counter to its original purpose"

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin welcomed the decision, commenting: “The away goals rule has been an intrinsic part of UEFA competitions since it was introduced in 1965 […]. The impact of the rule now runs counter to its original purpose as, in fact, it now dissuades home teams - especially in first legs - from attacking, because they fear conceding a goal that would give their opponents a crucial advantage. There is also criticism of the unfairness, especially in extra time, of obliging the home team to score twice when the away team has scored.”