Spain, the world champions, returned to the top of the Fifa rankings yesterday while Brazil dropped to third place and Italy, the 2006 World Cup winners, slumped to 11th. Holland, the World Cup finalists, leapfrogged Brazil into second, a rise of two places, while England surprisingly moved up a rung to seventh despite a disappointing tournament in South Africa. Uruguay, the semi-finalists, made a significant rise, climbing 10 places to sixth, while France, the 1998 champions, capped a pitiful performance by slipping 12 places to 21st.
Germany and Argentina both moved up two places to fourth and fifth respectively. New Zealand were the biggest movers, rising 24 places to 54th after finishing their three group matches at the World Cup unbeaten. There were mixed fortunes for the African teams. While hosts South Africa (66th, up 17) and Ghana (23rd, up 9) make considerable ground, Nigeria (30th, down 9), Algeria (33rd, down 3) and Cameroon (40th, down 21) tumbled down the pecking order. The UAE gained 13 places and entered the top 100 at 88th.