Some coaches believe that there are issues with the away goals rule and UEFA has decided on a course of action

Football is not a monolithic sport. The game has undergone a number of rulebook changes since it was first codified and continues to adapt.

Consider the back-pass rule, which was introduced in 1992, or even the fact that there are now strict measures when it comes to players’ equipment. The introduction of VAR in a number of top-level competitions is the latest example of how the game is continually evolving.

While the fundamental laws of the game remain the same for everyone there are variations on certain rules depending on the competition. There is no extra time in league matches, for example, but there is in some knockout tournaments.

The away goals rule has been one of the big talking points in recent years for coaches and it is set to be dropped from use by UEFA in its flagship club competitions, the Champions League and Europa League.

With that in mind, Goal takes a look at the rule, its history and whether we have seen the end of it for good.

What is the away goals rule?

The away goals rule is one of three FIFA-approved methods of deciding the winner of a game in the event of a draw, the others being extra time and penalties.

Normally used in ties which feature home and away legs – the knockout stage of the Champions League, for example – the application of the away goals rule means that any goals scored away from home effectively count double when the scores are level. So, if the aggregate score is level after two legs, the team who scores more away goals is deemed the victor.

General away goal examples:

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 thanks to the away goals rule.

The aggregate score of the tie between Team A and Team B is 2-2, but Team B scored twice away from home as opposed to Team A, who only scored once away.

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

In this example the aggregate score is also 2-2, but no team progresses by virtue of the away goals rule and the game must go to either extra time or penalties.

The reason for this is because both teams scored the same number of goals away from home and thus neither enjoys an advantage.

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

This example, Team B wins the tie on away goals.

While the teams are locked at 3-3 on aggregate, the three goals scored by Team B away from home is more than the one scored away by Team A.

When was the away goals rule introduced?

The away goals rule has been used in football for over half a century having first been introduced in the 1965-66 Cup Winners Cup.

It was first invoked in the second round of the tournament in a game between Czech side Dukla Prague and Hungary’s Budapest Honved, which took place in November 1965.

With the tie finishing 4-4, Budapest Honved progressed because they scored three goals in Czechoslovakia as opposed to Dukla, who managed just two in Hungary.

It was subsequently expanded to the European Cup (now Champions League) in 1967 and has since been implemented in a wide variety of knockout tournaments across the world.

Why was the away goals rule brought in?

The idea behind the introduction of the rule was two-fold: 1) to remove the need for a tie-breaker at a neutral venue and 2) to encourage teams to attack away from home.

Will the away goals rule be scrapped?

On June 24, 2021, UEFA confirmed that the away goals rule would no longer be used in its club competitions from the 2021-22 season on.

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.”