• France

French side Clermont appoint country's first female manager

ESPN staff
May 7, 2014
Helena Costa had been in charge of Iran's women's national team since 2012 © Getty Images

French second-tier side Clermont have announced Helena Costa will be their coach next season, making her the first woman to take charge of a professional football team in the country.

Costa, 36, has been in charge of Iran's women's national team since 2012 but has now agreed to succeed Regis Brouard at Clermont, who are destined to finish in lower mid-table this season.

"This appointment allows Clermont Foot 63 to enter into a new era by counting on the squad of 17 players currently under contract, to which will be added young players who have come through the club's ranks," a statement on the club's official website read.

Portuguese-born, Costa has worked as head coach at the Benfica youth academy and with various women's teams in her homeland, where she won a number of national titles.

Costa, in charge of the Qatar women's national side between 2010 and her move to Iran, will be presented to media upon conclusion of the current campaign.

Celtic congratulated Costa on landing the role after she carried out scouting work in Portugal and Spain for the Scottish Premier League champions between 2008 and 2011.

A statement on the club's official website said: "We would like to congratulate Helena sincerely on taking up this new role. She did an excellent job for us and we know she will give her new position the same high level of commitment and dedication which she gave to Celtic."

Only one other woman, Carolina Morace, has coached a professional men's team in Europe, having managed third-tier Italian side Viterbese for just two matches in 1999 before leaving because of constant media pressure.

Hope Powell, who coached the England women's national team between 1998 and 2013, said in 2012 that there were "several" women who have the coaching qualifications to take charge of a men's Premier League team.

Female referees are not uncommon in Europe, with Amy Fearn writing her name into the record books in England after becoming the first female official to take charge of a Football League match in February 2010 when she replaced Tony Bates for the last 19 minutes of Coventry's 1-0 home win over Nottingham Forest.

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