Do football fans want to abolish the “away goals” rule?

Christien PhebyContent Manager
June 25, 2021, 4:56 PM UTC

UEFA recently announced that the “away goals rule”, which decides tied two-legged knockout games based on which team has scored more goals away from home, would be removed from its European competitions for the 2021/22 season. We asked football fans whether they’re in favour of abolishing the rule or whether they’d prefer to keep it.

Data from YouGov Direct shows an even split: 47% of fans are in favour of scrapping the away goals rule, while 46% want it to remain part of European competition.  UEFA’s rationale for abolishing the rule (which has been in place since 1965) is that it “runs counter to its original purpose” of encouraging attacking play, and that home teams are too often forced to adopt a cagier, more defensive style to avoid conceding costly away goals.

While fans aren’t overwhelmingly in favour of abolishing the away goals rule, just 9% think it’s the best way to decide a football match in general. When asked, Britons who follow football are most likely to say extra time – followed by a penalty shoot-out if there is still no winner – is the fairest method of deciding a match (52%). The “golden goal” system, where the first team to score in extra time is declared the winner, came in second (14%), while 13% of fans want matches to go straight to penalties.

Replays are by some distance the least popular option: just 6% say football matches should be played again immediately following extra time, and only 2% say there should be an automatic replay following normal time.  

Methodology

YouGov polled 1,502 British football fans online on 25 June 2021 between 11:03 and 13:39 BST. The survey was carried out through YouGov Direct. Data is weighted by age, gender, education level, region, and social grade. Results are nationally representative of adults in Great Britain. The margin of error is 4.0% for the overall sample. Learn more about YouGov Direct.