UEFA has announced the away goal rule will be abolished from European competitions, as of the 2021-22 season.
The away goal rule determined the winner of a two-legged knockout tie where the two teams had scored the same number of goals on aggregate over the two matches. The team which had scored more away goals was considered the winner of the tie and qualified for the next round of the competition.
Ties in the Champions League and Europa League will now be decided by two 15 minute periods of extra time proceeding the second leg. If after extra time the teams remain tied the games will revert to penalty kicks.
Articles 20:01 Regulations of the UEFA Champions League states:
For matches played under the knockout system, if the two teams involved in a tie score the same number of goals over the two legs, two 15-minute periods of extra time are played at the end of the second leg. The team which scores more goals during extra time qualifies for the next stage. If both teams score the same number of goals or no goals are scored during extra time, kicks from the penalty mark determine which team qualifies for the next stage.
The rule is to take immediate effect and be in place for the 2021-22 season. Interestingly, two preliminary round first-leg matches have already commenced and the teams to successfully navigate the initial stage will be subject to the rule change forthwith.
UEFA has stated that all UEFA club competitions, including men’s, women’s and youth tournaments, will adopt the rule change, this includes: Champions League, Europa League, Women’s Champions League, UEFA Youth League, UEFA Super Cup and the new Europa Conference League.
Amongst concerns of unfairness was that the historical rule dissuades teams from playing attacking football. More so, the home team had to score twice to counter a single goal scored by the away team and each team effectively parked the bus at home in attempts not to concede on home turf.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin explained:
“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.”
To place additional weight on one goal over another to determine a winner is unreasoned and can create unequal advantages. If the two teams remained locked in a tie with an equal amount of away goals, the winner would be determined by extra time after the second leg. Away goals in the champion League and Europe League were still applicable in extra time and would mean the away team of the second leg had additional time with the advantage of an away goal.
The new regulations address a long debated issue and seek to equal to the playing field in UEFA’s European competitions.
Article 20:01 Champions League Regulations 2019-20