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French club Clermont Foot makes history with Helena Costa coaching appointment

By CNN Staff
updated 12:36 PM EDT, Wed May 7, 2014
Helena Costa meets the media after becoming France's first ever professional female coach for a male team after her appointment at Clermont Foot. Helena Costa meets the media after becoming France's first ever professional female coach for a male team after her appointment at Clermont Foot.
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Women in football: Helena Costa
Women in football: Helena Costa
Women in football: Helena Costa
Women in football: Pia Sundhage
Women in football: Silvia Neid
Women in football: Carolina Morace
Women in football: Hope Powell
Women in football: Eva Carneiro
Women in football: Karren Brady
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Clermont Foot appoints Helena Costa as new coach
  • Costa to become France's first ever professional female coach
  • Costa previously worked as coach of the Iran women's side

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(CNN) -- Is soccer's glass ceiling finally cracking?

French second-tier side Clermont Foot hinted at a new dawn for the sport after appointing the country's first ever professional female coach for a male team.

Helena Costa, who was previously in charge of the Iran women's national team, will take over the reins at Clermont next season.

The 36-year-old will become the first female coach of a French professional football club, while her appointment, announced Wednesday, represents the first time a team in the top two divisions of one of Europe's big five leagues -- Spain, Germany, England, Italy and France -- has hired a female manager.

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"Clermont Foot 63 has chosen Helena Costa to be our new coach," a statement confirming the appointment read.

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"This appointment will allow Clermont Foot 63 to begin a new era, relying on a group of 17 players currently under contract, which will be added by young players from the club."

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The Portuguese will succeed Regis Brouard, who is currently in charge of Clermont but is leaving at the end of the season when his contract expires.

Costa, a sports science graduate, has been rewarded following her work with the Iran and Qatar women's national teams, while she also led Benfica's male youth team to two World Youth titles. She also spent time as a scout with Scottish club Celtic.

Currently 14th in Ligue 2, Clermontwill introduce Costa to the French media after the season's final set of fixtures.

Male chauvinism

While Costa is the first ever female coach in French professional football, Nelly Viennot previously served as an assistant referee in France, also featuring in Champions League games.

The English Premier League boasts two high-profile females, with Eva Carneiro fulfilling the role of Chelsea's first-team doctor, while Karren Brady is West Ham's vice chairman.

Former England women's national team manager Hope Powell was linked with the Grimsby job in 2009, although she denied that she was ever in the running for the post.

In Italy, Carolina Morace took charge of Italian Serie C1 team Viterbese for two matches in 1999.

Maria Jose Claramunt, meanwhile, is currently the director of the Spanish national team, however, she is responsible for marketing issues rather than sporting ones.

Historically women working in the football industry have had to contend with male chauvinism.

Richard Keys and Andy Gray were household names on British broadcaster Sky Sports -- two men who presented football to UK viewers for so long they had become an integral part of the game itself.

But both were forced to leave the broadcaster in 2011 shortly after they were caught making derogatory remarks about female match official Sian Massey.

Talking near a microphone they thought had been turned off, Gray said: "Can you believe that? A female linesman. Women don't know the offside rule." Keys replied: "Course they don't."

Read: Sexism in sport: Why do internet trolls target women?

Read: Is Wilson United's next big thing?

Read: What next for Ryan Giggs?

Read: Is racism endemic in Spanish football?

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