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UEFA confirmed yesterday the elimination of the away goal rule that gave advantage with a double value to the goals scored by the visiting team. The rule will be eliminated from all the men’s, women’s, and youth UEFA competitions, coming into effect from next season 2021-2022.
This will be the new format for the knock-out stages. When a direct elimination series ends equal on total goals, the team that scored more away goals will not advance to the next stage. Instead, the teams will have to play two 15-minute periods of extra time. If the result is still a draw, penalty kicks will determine which team qualifies to the next stage.
UEFA president, Aleksander Čeferin said that this decision is based on a question of sporting fairness, as many involved in football have complained about the said rule. And although opinion was not unanimous, coaches, fans, and other football shareholders supported the abolition of the rule, after questioning its fairness.
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Impact of the Rule
According to Čeferin, “the impact of the rule now goes against its original purpose, as in fact it now discourages home teams, especially in first-leg matches, from attacking, because they fear conceding a goal that would give their opponents a crucial advantage”.
He concluded: “There is also criticism of the unfairness, especially in extra time, of forcing the home team to score twice when the away team has scored. It is fair to say that home advantage is no longer as important as it used to be”.
Statistics from the mid-1970s in men’s competitions indicate a clear trend towards a continuous reduction in the gap between home/away wins (from 61%/19% to 47%/30%). The same happens with the average number of goals per game scored home and away (from 2.02/0.95 to 1.58/1.15).
The away goals rule has been a part of UEFA competitions since it was introduced in 1965. After 56 years, UEFA has just made history with its abolition.
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