Since the start of the 2021/22 campaign, there has been no away goals rule in UEFA's club competitions.
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In June 2021, following the recommendation of the UEFA Club Competitions Committee and the UEFA Women's Football Committee, the UEFA Executive Committee approved a proposal to remove the so-called away goals rule from all UEFA club competitions (men, women and youth) as of 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 two-legged knockout tie in cases where the two teams had scored the same number of goals on aggregate over the two matches.
In such cases, the team that scored the higher number of goals away from home was considered the winner of the tie and qualified for the next round of the competition. If the two teams had scored the same number of goals at home and away at the end of normal playing time in the second leg, extra time was played, followed by penalties if there were no further goals.
What happens now there is no away goals rule?
Ties in which the two teams score the same number of goals over the two legs are no longer decided on the number of goals scored away. Instead, two 15-minute periods of extra time are played at the end of the second leg. If the teams score the same number of goals or no goals during this extra time, a penalty shoot-out determines the team that qualifies for 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 the rankings when two or more teams are equal on points in the group stage (see article 17.01 of the UEFA Champions League regulations).
Why was the away goals rule abandoned?
Statistics from the mid-1970s until 2020/21 showed 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. From 2009/10 to 2020/21, the average goals per game remained stable in the Women’s Champions League, with the overall average of 1.92 for home teams and 1.6 for away teams.
Many different factors may be considered as having an impact on this decline in home advantage. Better pitch quality and standardised pitch sizes, improved stadium infrastructure, higher security conditions, enhanced care of refereeing (and more recently the introduction of technological support such as GLT and VAR), wider and more sophisticated TV coverage of matches, more comfortable travel conditions, a compressed calendar dictating squad turnover, and changes in competition formats are all elements which have affected the way football is played and blurred the lines between playing at home and away.
How did UEFA explain the decision?
UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin 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."