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Uefa has scrapped the away goals rule in its competitions, proclaiming it was no longer a fair way of deciding the winner of European ties.
The governing body’s executive committee on Thursday ratified a proposal to abolish the 56-year-old rule with immediate effect following a recommendation by its club competitions and women’s football committees.
Aleksander Čeferin, the Uefa president, said: “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.”
“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.
“Taking into consideration the consistency across Europe in terms of styles of play, and many different factors which have led to a decline in home advantage, the Uefa executive committee has taken the correct decision in adopting the view that it is no longer appropriate for an away goal to carry more weight than one scored at home.”
In announcing the decision, Uefa cited statistics from the mid-1970s to today which it said showed a clear trend of continuous reduction in the gap between the number of home/away wins (from 61 per cent/19 per cent to 47 per cent/30per cent) and 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.
It said the data also showed that, since 2009/10, the average goals per game had remained very steady in the Women’s Champions League with the overall average of 1.92 for home teams and 1.6 for away teams.
It added: “Many different factors may be considered as having an impact on this decline in home advantage. Better pitch quality and standardised pitch sizes, improved stadium infrastructure, higher security conditions, enhanced care of refereeing (and more recently the introduction of =technological support such as GLT and VAR), wider and more sophisticated TV coverage of matches, more comfortable travel conditions, a compressed calendar dictating squad turnover, and changes in competition formats are all elements which have affected the way football is played and blurred the lines between playing at home and away."