UEFA Away Goals Rule | What It Is & Why UEFA Abolished It From Champions League And Europa League

There’s not a first time in Football that a certain rule of the game has been embellished or changed in favor of teams. Recently, UEFA Abolished Away Goals rule in Champion league matches. The away goals rule has been one of the big talking points in recent years for coaches and it has been dropped from the use by UEFA in its flagship club competitions, the Champions League and Europa League, from the 2021-22 season on.

By keeping in mind, let’s take a look at:

  • what is the away goals rule
  • History of away Goal
  • Why UEFA Abolished Away Goals rule?

What is the away goals rule?

The away goal rule is simply a method to decide the winner in the event of a draw besides extra time and penalty.

The rule comes into effect in a fixture that features a home and away leg, the knockout stage of the Champions League. As per the rule, the team with the most goals ‘away from home’ wins the tie if scores are level on aggregate.

General away goal examples:

1). Example

  • First Leg: Team A (home) 1-2 Team B (away)
  • Second Leg: Team B (home) 0-1 Team A (away)

In the above example, Team B progresses to the next round thanks to the away goals rule. The aggregate score of the tie between Team A and Team B is 2-2. However, Team B scored twice away from home as opposed to Team A, who only scored once away.

2). Example

  • First Leg: Team A (home) 2-3 Team B (away)
  • Second Leg: Team B (home) 0-1 Team A (away)

However the aggregate score is level (3-3), Team B scored the most goals away from home. Hence, Team B advances into the next round.

The away goals rule in football has long been a double-edged on football clubs. As controversial as it may be, the away goals rule provides the thrill not seen in regular league-based competitions. However, in meantime, this rule mercilessly kills the hopes of millions of fans.

From Iniesta’s late away equalizer in the 93rd minute in 2009 to Barcelona losing the tie against As Roma on the base of Away goals, It crushed fans’ hopes.

History of away Goal

The away goals rule has been introduced in 1965-66 European cup winners. The reason to introduced the rule was, teams don’t play defensive football away from home. The first team to win a fixture by away goals rule was Budapest Honved.

The club faced Dukla Prague in the second round of the Cup Winners’ Cup. Budapest won the first leg 3-2 but lost the reverse fixture at home by a 2-1 scoreline. While the aggregate score was 4-4, Budapest qualified to the next round having scored three away goals.

Why the away goals rule was introduced?

The idea behind the introduction of the rule was

  • To remove the need for a tie-breaker at a neutral venue
  • To encourage teams to attack away from home.

Why UEFA Abolished Away Goals rule?

Before the start of the 2021-2022 Champions and Europa League, UEFA Executive committee approved the proposal to Abolished Away Goals rule. The decision was based on the Recommendation of The EFA Club Competitions Committee and the UEFA Women’s Football Committee.

As the UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin explained: “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”.

He further Added “The consistency across Europe in terms of styles of play, and many different factors have led to a decline in home advantage. The question of its (away goals rule) abolition has been debated at various UEFA meetings over the last few years”.

Moreover, UEFA releases a statement claiming”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 average number of goals per match scored at home/away (from 2.02/0.95 to 1.58/1.15) in men’s competitions,”.

“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,” the UEFA President added.

Managers Point of View

Managers like Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson had previously aired their discomfort over the rule. “Sometimes I think there is a counter-effect as teams play at home not to concede goals,” said Wenger in a 2014 interview.

He further said “It should count, maybe, after extra time. This rule was created in the 60s to encourage teams to attack away from home, but football has changed since the 1960s and the weight of the away goal is too big today.”

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