The USA may have claimed their second gold medal by triumphing in the 2004 Women's Olympic Football Tournament in Athens, but it is the German world champions who continue to lead the way in the FIFA Women's World Ranking. Nevertheless, the Germans' lead over Hamm, Wambach & co. has been reduced to a mere seven points.

The Americans missed out on a return by failing to hit top form in their encounters with Greece and Australia in the group stage and their head-to-head clash with Germany. China PR (6th, down 1) and Sweden (5th, down 1), runners-up in last year's Women's World Cup, are two high-profile teams to slip down the ranking. One team on the up, however, is Brazil (4th, up 2), who ran the USA so close in the chase for Olympic gold.

Excellent performances in the preliminary round of the African Women's Championship also result in impressive climbs for two African teams - Algeria (74th, up 22) and Senegal (90th, up 12), the latter breaking into the top 100.

The 117 teams in the Women's World Ranking are evaluated on a number of factors, including match results, home advantage, the significance of a match and the strength of the opposition. The ranking is published four times per year.  According to the Big Count survey published by FIFA in 2001, 22 million women and girls around the world play football.  A total of 99 teams participated in the preliminary competition for the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup.

- The next FIFA Women's World Ranking will be published on 20 December 2004.
Full Ranking list