French soccer team hires a female manager, first time ever in Europe’s top tiers


For the first time ever in France, a men’s professional soccer team will be managed by a woman. French Ligue 2 side Clermont Foot hired Helena Costa to manage the team, which also makes her the first woman to coach in the top two tiers of any of the five major European leagues.

Costa, 36-years-old, has an extensive coaching career. She has coached in the Benfica youth system, and has led the Qatar and Iran women’s teams. In her next venture into men’s soccer, she said she just wants to be treated like a man.

“The impact of my appointment was huge, but I want people looking at me like a normal person and judge my work as if I were a man,” said Costa, via Sky Sports.

“It is a pleasure to take this position [but] like men, if I do not have results, I will be fired like any other coach. This is normal.”

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“This appointment must allow the Clermont Foot 63 to go into a new era, relying on a group of 17 players currently under contract, which will be added young players from the club,” the club said in a statement.

The club has some financial struggles that Costa will over come, but her appointment could generate some buzz around the club.

“As always, the budget takes a large share of responsibility for the results. But I’m here to win,” Costa said. “Although Clermont Foot is not a rich club, ambitions will be great. My goal is to win for Clermont. I am motivated by the project.”

Unfortunately for her she is walking into a team that finished 14th in the second-tier of French soccer and will face an uphill battle. She could face the issue of whether the male players listen and respect her when she talks. She will definitely be subjected to media discussion over whether they will. In a show of things to come, the supporter’s club wasn’t necessarily the most supportive of her right away saying they were initially surprised, but adding they “got over it.” They also already began the discussion over the difficulties of managing the men.

“It surprised us when we read the club statement. But once we got over it, we all believe that it is a good thing,” Veronique Soulier, president of Clermont Foot’s supporters’ club, said, via BBC.

“The boys in the team can be difficult to manage. They can be quite sensitive, that is what the other coaches have told us. With a woman in charge, maybe they will be less demanding.”

Ideally you’re supporters club wouldn’t be simply “getting over it,” but “getting behind it.” She’ll face challenges, but it is an incredible story about a barrier being broken.