Away goals will no longer count double in the event of a tie in European competitions. This rule, introduced in 1965, was often criticized. However, she founded the suspense, unexpected, of many round-trip matches. Above all, she gave real value to the fact of succeeding in piercing the nets at the opponent, in return sanctifying the stadiums in strongholds of the clubs which received. What is a religion, even secular, without perjury? If there is no lack of rational, even economic, arguments, once again, it is a question of sacrificing the right of football to derogate from common sense in order to better write its extraordinary story.
UEFA never ceases to dismay us. After the recent episodes around Germany-Hungary or the geopolitical mini-dramas between Russia and Ukraine, the great European football multinational decides, in the middle of the Euro, to announce a significant reform of its competitions between clubs. Certainly, from this point of view, it fully embraces the falsely reforming madness which inflames a football which tries to stick to its time and to remain the most attractive product on the market (of the rights TV). From FIFA’s overhaul of the World Cup into a massive 48-man gas plant to, more recently, the Kafka-like makeover of the Champions League, largely to ward off the – ever-present – threat of the Superleague, brains smoke constantly in Switzerland. So, last avatar, the disappearance of one of the most controversial measures, but somewhere the most exciting, that famous “goal counts double” on the go. A x2 which made a 3-1 uncertain and a 1-1 eliminatory. We will no longer teach our sons and daughters the sweet subtleties of probabilities and those famous “cases”. It seems that the mathematics level of French children is dropping, it’s still a shame to deprive them of a fun exercise at home.
Perverse effect and perversity of Čeferin
Of course, the decision is not balanced without a good justification in the name of the “game” and especially the need to maintain the quality of the show. UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin has, as usual, been able to use all the fine strings of Schopenhauer’s artistry, the art of always being right. “Today, the effects of this rule are contrary to its initial goal, since it dissuades the receiving team – especially in the first leg – from attacking, for fear of conceding a goal which would give a crucial advantage to his opponent. Its unfairness is also criticized, especially in overtime, as it forces the home team to score twice when the visiting team scores a goal. ”
Another good argument, the gap between home wins and « away » has not stopped decreasing (from 61% -19% 50 years ago to 47% -30% now), without mentioning the impact of empty enclosures since the pandemic. So there is no need to maintain a system which on the contrary aimed to increase the chances of the visitor. Consequently, there is a high risk that extra time and even shots on goal will multiply. One stress drives out the other.
Unfair, but beautiful
Finally, the bosses of the round ball simply made a pragmatic choice, somewhere more equitable (and again, given the growing gap between the Eastern and Western championships, it is surely in vain), or more ” fair ” . They have, on the other hand, as they do more and more often, forgot that mythology rarely feeds on the mere truth of numbers. Without the small exploits of a conceded goal, sometimes against the course of the game somewhere in Munich, some of the finest exploits, even recent ones, would have been immolated on the altar of a banal “1 + 1 = 2”.
We are willing to admit, sometimes, that football is a matter of geometry in space, not that it is simply reduced to accounting calculations. In addition, the perception of this famous “injustice” so often decried, especially by the losers of one night, and we can understand them, turns out above all to be a matter of balance of power. And what the Slovenian whispers to us amounts to tipping the scales again in favor of the host to the detriment of the visitor, to look at the beauty of a match only by the performance in all logic, never in the exploit a little trickster. We realize who it is to protect from now on. Too bad for the dramaturgy of these back and forth meetings, sometimes so cruel by the deus ex machina of a penalty awarded after a hand from Kimpembe. A theft, some shout. Now, property is theft, said Proudhon. And Čeferin no longer wants to give up his property.
By Nicolas Kssis-Martov