The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) decided to eliminate the away goals rule, which has been in place since 1965, for all UEFA club competitions. “The UEFA Executive Committee has today approved a proposal to remove the so-called away goals rule from all UEFA club competitions (men, women, and youth) as of the qualifying phases of the 2021-22 competitions,” said a UEFA statement on Friday.
The new rule will be applied from the qualifying phases of the Champions League and Europa League of the next season. Under the old rule, when teams were level on aggregate after a two-legged match, the team that had scored more goals than the away side was awarded the victory. From the new season, however, this will be replaced by two 15-minute periods of extra time and a penalty shootout. The decision was based on the fact that more comfortable travel conditions have reduced the difficulties of away games and that the introduction of the video assistant referee (VAR) has lessened the disadvantages of away-side teams when it comes to referees' decisions. “Statistics from the mid-1970s until now show a clear trend of continuous reduction in the gap between the number of home/away wins (from 61%/19% to 47%/30%),” the UEFA said in its statement.
Meanwhile, home teams felt the pressure under the away goals rule and became more defensive. In particular, the old rule was criticized for being too unfair to home teams since an away-side team only has to score one goal, while a home team should score two to win the game where the two teams had scored the same number of goals on aggregate over the two matches and get extra time.
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