Where do England measure up on the world scale? Are the USA still the best team
Where do England measure up on the world scale? Are the USA still the best team in the world? How far are England behind European champions Germany?On 23 May 2003 - almost exactly four months to the day before the opening game of the fourth FIFA Women's World Cup in China - FIFA will lift the veil of secrecy over who is topping the first FIFA Women's World Ranking and how the other contenders are placed.
Ten years after the launch of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking for men's national teams, women's football will then also have an objective yardstick for measuring the sporting performance of a steadily expanding number of national teams.
By launching the World Ranking, FIFA is hoping to give the popularity of women's football a well deserved extra boost.
According to the Big Count survey published by FIFA two years ago, some 22 million women play football regularly in over 130 countries.
Almost one hundred teams - substantially more than at previous competitions - are now contesting the preliminary competition of the fourth FIFA Women's World Cup, to be staged in China from 23 September to 11 October 2003.
The qualifying in Europe is complete and England just missed out on one of five Finals places up for grabs, coming second to European champions Germany in the group stage then losing 0-2 on aggregate in the Play-Off Final against France.
One stumbling block that had long prevented such a ranking from being calculated has now been removed. FIFA went to great lengths to improve the actual database so drastically that reliable statistics can now be evaluated. Some 3,000 international matches dating back to 1970 up to the end of 2002 were taken into account. Approximately half of them were friendlies.
The FIFA Women's World Ranking will be presented in detail at the group draw in the city of Wuhan in central China on 23 May 2003 and is due to be published quarterly. It has been produced with the help of the international sports information provider, Infostrada Sports.