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UEFA abolishes away goals rule for club competitions

Nicolò Campo / LightRocket / Getty

UEFA's executive committee approved a rule change Thursday that will eliminate the away goals rule in all club competitions for the 2021-22 season.

Knockout ties in which both sides score the same number of goals over the two legs will now be decided by two 15-minute extra periods followed by penalties if required, UEFA's statement announced.

The rule will be in place in all men's, women's, and youth competitions under the umbrella of European football's governing body.

The away goals rule has been employed by UEFA in its competitions since 1965. According to UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, discussions have taken place over the last few years to modify or eliminate the policy.

"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," Ceferin added.

"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."

The abolishment of the rule also means away goals will no longer be criteria for determining places in the group stages for two sides with the same number of points.

Sourcing statistics from the mid-1970s until the present, there has been a continuous reduction in the difference between the number of home/away victories (from 61%/19% to 47%/30%), according to UEFA. Additionally, there has been a gradual change in the number of goals scored per match in men's competitions, home and away (from 2.02/0.95 to 1.58/1.15).

Standardized pitch sizes, improved stadiums, and enhanced refereeing with the introduction of video replay are among other factors that UEFA considers to have "blurred the lines between playing at home and away."

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