Uefa scraps away goals rule in all club competitions from next season

All matches level on aggregate at the end of second leg will now go to extra-time

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 4, 2019 UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin walks past a sign with the UEFA logo after attending a press conference following a meeting of the executive committee at the UEFA headquarters, in Nyon, Switzerland. UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin on June 23, 2021 said the footballing body could not give in to "populist" requests from politicians, as he defended the decision not to allow Munich's Allianz Arena to be lit up in rainbow colours. "UEFA cannot be used as a tool by politicians," Ceferin told Germany's Die Welt newspaper after Munich's mayor had made the rainbow request in protest at Hungary's anti-LGBTQ law. / AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI

Uefa has decided to abolish the away goals rule for all club competitions from next season in Europe.

The decision will apply to competitions involving men's, women's and youth teams. That means the Champions League, Europa League, Europa Conference League and Women's Champions League matches will no longer use the rule.

The region's governing body said all matches that are level on aggregate at the end of the second leg will now go to extra-time.

The away rule was introduced in 1965-66, but came under scrutiny last season with matches being held at neutral venues and without spectators due to the pandemic.

Now, two 15-minute periods of extra time will be played at the end of the second leg, followed by a penalty shoot-out if the teams are still tied.

Explaining the decision, Uefa president Aleksander 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," Ceferin added.

"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 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 decision to scrap the away goals rule was taken by Uefa's Executive Committee following the recommendation of its Club Competitions Committee and the Women's Football Committee.

Uefa said since away goals will no longer be given additional weight to decide a tie, they would also not be used to determine the rankings when two or more teams are equal on points in the group stage.

The governing body stated that statistics since the mid-1970s showed the gap between home and away wins had reduced.

It talked about better pitch quality, standardised pitch sizes, and even VAR as factors in the decline of home advantage.

Paris Saint-Germain's away-goals victory over Bayern Munich in last season's quarter-finals will now be the last in the Champions League before the rule change.

The rule has led to some dramatic moments in recent years, including Tottenham's stoppage-time win over Ajax in the 2019 Champions League semi-finals.

EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS