Following the recommendation of the UEFA Club Competitions Committee and the UEFA Women’s Football Committee, the UEFA Executive Committee today approved the proposal to remove the so-called ‘goals against away” of all UEFA club competitions (i.e. men’s, women’s and youth) from the qualifying stages of the 2021/22 season.
The away goals rule was intended to determine the winner of a knockout tie played over two matches when both teams had scored the same aggregate number of goals in both matches. In such a case, the team that had scored the most away goals would win the match and qualify for the next round of the competition. If the number of home and away goals scored was the same for both teams at the end of regular time in the second leg, extra time was played, followed by kicks from the penalty mark if no goals were scored. entered during overtime.
With the decision to abolish this rule, two teams having scored the same number of goals over the whole of the two matches of a meeting will not be decided according to the number of goals scored away from home, but two periods of extra time 15 minutes will be played at the end of regulation time in the second leg, and if neither team scores or if the teams score the same number of goals during extra time, kicks from the penalty mark will determine which of the two teams ends. qualifies for the next phase of the competition.
Since away goals will no longer have any additional weight to decide between two teams, they will also cease to be used as a criterion to determine the classification in the event of equality of points of several teams in the group stage , that is to say that they will no longer appear among the criteria applied to the matches played by the teams concerned. Away goals will however continue to be used as an additional criterion for all group matches in the event of a tie between teams (higher number of away goals scored in all group matches) , with the aim of keeping as many sporting criteria as possible.
Statistics from the mid-1970s to the present show a clear trend towards a gradual narrowing of the gap between the number of home and away wins (from 61% at home to 19% away 47% at home and 30% away) and the difference between the average number of goals scored per game at home and away (2.02 at home and 0.95 away at 1.58 home and 1.15 away) in men’s competitions, while since 2009/10 the average number of goals per game has remained very stable in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, averaging 1. 92 for the home team and 1.6 for the visiting team.
Many factors are considered to have influenced this reduction in home advantage. Improved quality of pitches and standardized sizes, improved stadium infrastructure, optimized security conditions, increased attention to refereeing (and, more recently, the introduction of technological aids such as TLB and VAR ), wider and more sophisticated TV coverage of matches, more comfortable travel conditions, a very busy schedule requiring rotation of the workforce and changes in competition formulas are all elements that have influenced the way whose football is played and who have smoothed the differences between playing at home and away.
Commenting on the abolition of the away goals rule, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin said: “The away goals rule is an integral part of UEFA competitions. UEFA since its introduction in 1965. However, the question of its abolition has often been discussed at various UEFA meetings in recent years. Although the abolition was not unanimous, many coaches, supporters and other football stakeholders questioned its fairness and spoke out in favor of its abolition. »
Aleksander Čeferin added: “Today, the effects of this rule are contrary to its original purpose, as it deters the home team – especially in the first leg – from attacking, for fear of conceding a goal that would give a crucial advantage to his opponent. We also criticize its inequity, especially in the event of extra time, because it obliges the home team to score twice when the visiting team scores a goal. »
The UEFA president concluded: “It is correct to say that the advantage of playing at home is no longer as significant as it was in the past. Considering the consistency across Europe when it comes to playing styles and the many other factors that led to the home advantage being reduced, the UEFA Executive Committee made the right decision in believing that t is no longer appropriate that a goal scored away counts more than a goal scored at home. »
The latest versions of the UEFA club competition regulations can be found here.