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6 Feb, 2019 14:10

UEFA Executive Committee to discuss abolishing away-goals rule – report

UEFA Executive Committee to discuss abolishing away-goals rule – report

The away-goals rule used to resolve European fixtures in the event of a draw over two legs could soon be a thing of the past, according to the German media. UEFA is reportedly meeting in Rome on Wednesday to discuss its abolition.

Reinhard Grindel, president of the German Football Association (DFB), will lead the meeting which could clear a path to formally abolish the ruling which has stood in UEFA competitions for more than half a century per a report by German outlet Kicker.

The rule states that if a knockout fixture is level at the end of play, the team which scored more away goals will advance to the next round of the competition.

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A handful of Europe's top coaches have suggested an open conversation to discuss removing the rule which was implemented in 1965 to encourage teams playing in European competition to be less dependent on defensive strategies when playing away from home.

The measure was discussed at an annual meeting of coaches last year in Switzerland which was attended by the likes of former Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho, Unai Emery of Arsenal and Juventus coach Max Allegri, among others.

"The coaches think that scoring goals away is not as difficult as it was in the past," UEFA's deputy general secretary Giorgio Marchetti said at the time.

"They think the rule should be reviewed and that's what we will do."


With the argument being that football has moved on from the time in which the rule was initially implemented, a new method to resolve tiebreaks in knockout fixtures would have to be introduced though there is as of yet no unanimous indication as what that could be.

So far this decade, 28.41% of away fixtures in the group stages of the Champions League (where draws are legitimate results) end with away victories - a significant increase from the 1960's when the rule was implemented. 

The prevalent thinking appears to be that the rule as it stands has forced home teams to adopt more defensive strategies in knockout fixtures to prevent visiting teams from scoring a valuable away goal.

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Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said that the away goals rule should only come into play in extra time if the score is level after 180 minutes of football - the method currently employed in England's Carabao Cup, while others have suggested that the fixture advance to a penalty shootout without the the need for extra time. 

Whatever the outcome of Wednesday's meeting in Rome, it is likely that any agreement to move on from the away goals rule would require agreement from several parties, so a formal decision on the matter remains some distance away.