Portuguese coach Helena Costa will be the first ever woman in charge of a men’s professional team in France after she was named Ligue 2 side Clermont Foot’s head coach on Wednesday.
“Helena Costa will coach Clermont Foot next season,“ the club said in a statement.
Costa, 39, is the current manager of the Iran national women’s team and has previously coached the Qatar national women’s team. She has also scouted for Scottish champions Celtic.
“It should help the club enter a new era,“ Clermont added.
— Raphaël Poughon (@rapou) 7 Mai 2014
Clermont are currently 14th in Ligue 2 with two matches to go.
It is extremely rare to find women at the head of professional football teams. In 2012, Bolivia’s Nelfi Ibáñez Guerra was nominated as head coach of Hijos of Acosvinchos, playing then in the Peruvian second division.
However, some women have taken on other top positions in the sport. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, France’s Nelly Viennot was the first female assistant referee in an elite match. Viennot has also served as an assistant referee in Champions League games.
In Germany, referee Bibiana Steinhaus officiates in second division games. She is the first female referee in the second Bundesliga and the first to have been a referee in the German Cup.
In Spain, Maria Jose Claramunt is the director of the national team, responsible more for marketing than sporting issues.