Players from Olympic semi-finalists USA, Brazil, Germany and Sweden make up 16 of the 21 names nominated by the Committee for Women's Football and FIFA Women's Competitions along with specialist members of other FIFA committees for the fourth FIFA Women's World Player award.

Despite the cancellation of the WUSA season for 2004, the United States' victory in the second biggest event in the women's game is rewarded by the most, five, selections.   Mia Hamm, previous double winner and runner-up in 2003, has made the shortlist once again, along with fellow Americans Shannon Boxx, Kristine Lilly, goalkeeper Briana Scurry and giant forward Abby Wambach, who scored the winning goal in the Final of the Olympic Games against Brazil.

The South Americans, who finally produced something of their vast potential in reaching the Athens' final, possess four candidates for the most glamorous individual prize in the women's game. Strikers Cristiane, Formiga and Pretinha, who was absent in Greece through injury, are joined by 18-year-old Marta among the 21.

Reining queen Birgit Prinz is one of four from world champions Germany, along with playmaker Renate Lingor, goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg and right-back Kerstin Stegemann. While Sweden, the team Germany beat for bronze at August's Games, have midfielder Malin Mostroem, and striking tandem Victoria Svensson and Hanna Ljungberg, third-place in 2003, among the elite. Although Ljunberg missed Umeå IK's UEFA Women's Cup thrashing of 1. FFC Frankfurt through injury, Mostroem along with Marta were both present as the Swedish club retained the top European trophy back in June.  

Surprisingly China, home of the next FIFA Women's World Cup in 2007 and Olympic Games in 2008, have no representatives in the shortlist, reflecting their disappointing performances in Greece. Canadian veteran Charmaine Hooper, Norway's keeper Bente Nordby, French sharpshooter Marinette Pichon, Japanese captain Homare Sawa and Mexican striker Maribel Dominguez, whose goals propelled her nation to a first ever place at the Olympics, make up the final five nominees.

This shortlist will now be sent to FIFA's associations where the votes of the national teams' coaches and captains will decide the make-up of the final three, to be announced in November. The final order will not be revealed until a very special FIFA World Player Gala 2004 in Zurich, Switzerland on 20 December.