European champions Spain top of world rankings

July 2, 2008

BERNE, July 2 (Reuters) - Newly crowned European champions Spain have climbed to the top of latest world rankings published by world soccer's governing body FIFA on Wednesday.

It is the first time since the introduction of the rankings in 1992 that Spain, who were rated fourth last month, have been listed as the world's best team.

The ranking system is based on international results over the past four years with more points awarded for wins in major tournaments.

Germany, losers of Sunday's Euro 2008 final, climbed two places to third position behind Italy, who rose one spot despite going out of the tournament at the quarter-final stage.

Former leaders Argentina saw their nine-month spell at the top of the rankings come to an end, tumbling down to sixth place after a disappointing month that included two draws in World Cup qualifying against Ecuador and Brazil.

The 2004 European champions Greece suffered an even bigger drop, from eighth to 18th, after losing the points gained from their shock title win and suffering a group stage exit from this year's event.

Russia's surprise run to the semi-finals has seen them surge 13 places to 11th, their best ranking in more than ten years.

After failing even to qualify for the tournament, England dropped six places to 15th, their lowest position since 2001.

Northern Ireland are down one in 33rd, the Republic of Ireland (41) are up one with Wales (54) dropping a place.