UEFA, the European Football Association, has announced on Thursday that the away goal rule, a historic feature of of European football, is to be abolished from the from 2021-22 season.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said the decision to abolish away goals was not unanimous, but there was a preference for the rule to no longer be implemented.
“The away goals rule has been an intrinsic part of UEFA competitions since it was introduced in 1965,” Ceferin said.
“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 football rule was applied to determine the winner of a two-legged knockout tie in cases where the two teams had scored the same number of goals on aggregate over the two matches. If one team had scored more away goals, they would qualify for the next round.
Rule discourages attacking football
With the move applying to all UEFA men’s, women’s and youth competitions, Ceferin said the change could lead to more attack-minded ties.
Many have been advocating for its removal from UEFA club competitions arguing that the football rule was restrictive to those playing at home, especially in the first leg of knockout ties, and that scoring goals away from home almost counted for double.
Ceferin said: “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 has announced that, as is common in many elite level football competitions across the world, if the scores are still level over a two-legged knockout tie there will be two 15-minute periods of extra time.
Should the teams score the same number of goals, or if no further goals are scored, during extra time, a penalty shootout will take place to determine which team will go through to the next round.