The UEFA Executive Committee approved in June 2021, on the recommendation of the UEFA Club Competitions Committee and the UEFA Women’s Football Committee, a proposal to remove the “goal-for-goal” rule in all UEFA club competitions (men’s, women’s and youth) from the start of the 2021/22 season.
What was the away goals rule?
The away goals rule was applied to determine the winner of a home and away knockout tie in situations where both teams would score the same number of goals combined over the two matches.
If so, the team that scored the most away goals was deemed the winner of the match and advanced to the next round of the competition. Away goals were said to count double. If both teams had scored the same number of goals home and away by the end of regular time in the second leg, extra time was played, followed by a penalty shoot-out if there were no further goals.
What happens now in case of a tie?
Double knockout ties where both teams score the same number of goals in both games are no longer decided on the number of away goals scored. Instead, at the end of the second leg (overtime) two 15-minute overtimes are played. If teams score the same number of goals or no goals during extra time, a penalty shoot-out determines which team advances to the next stage of the competition (see Article 20 of the UEFA Champions League Regulations).
Away goals have also been removed from the criteria used to determine qualification when two or more teams are level on points in the group stage (see article 17.01 of the UEFA Champions League rules).
• Europa League regulation
• Europe Conference League regulation
• Rules of the Women’s Champions League
• Youth League Regulations
Why was the away goals rule removed?
Statistics from the mid-1970s to 2020/21 have shown a clear trend of continued narrowing in the gap between home/away wins (from 61%/19% to 47%/30%) and the average number of goals scored per home/away (from 2.02/0.95 to 1.58/1.15) in men’s competitions. From 2009/10 to 2020/21, the goals per game average remained stable in the Women’s Champions League, with an overall average of 1.92 for home teams and 1.6 for away teams.
Many different factors can explain this decline in home advantage. Improved quality and standardized pitch sizes, improved stadium infrastructure, stricter safety conditions, improved refereeing services (and more recently the introduction of technological aids such as GLT and VAR), the presence of a wider and more sophisticated television coverage of matches, more comfortable travel conditions, a compressed schedule of team rotations and changes in competition formats have all influenced the way football is played and have blurred the lines between playing at home and playing away.
How did UEFA explain this decision?
UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin said: “The away goals rule has been an integral part of UEFA competitions since its introduction in 1965. However, the issue of its abolition has been discussed at various UEFA meetings in recent years. Although there has been a unanimity of voices, many coaches, fans and other football stakeholders questioned its fairness and expressed their preference for the rule to be abolished. »
“The rule now defeats its original purpose because, in effect, it now dissuades home teams – especially in the first leg – from attacking because they fear conceding a goal which would give them a decisive advantage over their opponents. Criticisms have also been leveled at the unfairness, especially in extra time, of forcing the home team to score twice when the opposing team has already scored. »
“It is fair to say that home field advantage is not as important today as it once was. Given the similarity in playing styles across Europe and the many different factors that have led to a decline in home advantage, the UEFA Executive Committee has made the right decision as they believe there is no more sense for an away goal to carry more weight of a goal at home. »
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