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    Thursday, June 24, 2021

    UEFA Scraps Away Goals Rule

    European football's governing body UEFA has decided to do away with the away-goals rule for its club competitions. The change is to take effect starting with qualifying stages for tournaments in the 2021-22 season.

    The away goals rule, initially used back in 1965, was brought in to determine a winner in two-legged knockout ties where the two teams had scored the same number of goals on aggregate over the two matches. The winner, in such a scenario, was the team who scored more goals in the away leg.

    But the rule has come in for criticism in recent years with home advantage no longer as strong across the game and many believing the rule to be inherently unfair on those teams playing second in a two-legged tie.

    Now extra-time and - should they be needed - penalties will decide such games.

    Commenting on the announcement, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “The away goals rule has been an intrinsic part of UEFA competitions since it was introduced in 1965. However, the question of its abolition has been debated at various UEFA meetings over the last few years. Although there was no unanimity of views, many coaches, fans and other football stakeholders have questioned its fairness and have expressed a preference for the rule to be abolished.

    “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.

    “It is fair to say that home advantage is nowadays no longer as significant as it once was. Taking into consideration the consistency across Europe in terms of styles of play, and many different factors which have led to a decline in home advantage, the UEFA  Executive Committee has taken the correct decision in adopting the view that it is no longer appropriate for an away goal to carry more weight than one scored at home.”

    UEFA  cited statistics since the mid-1970s which showed how the gap between home and away wins had reduced. It talked about better pitch quality, standardised pitch sizes, and even VAR as factors in the decline of home advantage.

    Paris Saint-Germain’s away-goals victory over Bayern Munich in last season’s quarter-finals will go down in history as the last in the Champions League before the rule change.

    The rule has led to some dramatic moments in recent years, including Tottenham’s stoppage-time success over Ajax in the 2019 Champions League semi-finals.

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