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Soccer-Ligue 2 side Clermont appoint female head coach

Reuters

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PARIS, May 7 (Reuters) - Portuguese Helena Costa will be the first 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, having scouted for Celtic and managed the Qatar national women's team.

"It should help the club enter a new era," Clermont added.

Clermont are 14th in Ligue 2 with two matches to go.

"It's a big surprise... It comes from nowhere," forward Remy Dugimont was quoted as saying by L'Equipe on its website (www.lequipe.fr).

"We'll have to learn to know her. We hope it is going to be fine but I don't think there is problem."

Defender Anthony Lippini added: "I can't wait for next season to discover this. Being the first professional players to be coached by a woman will be a unique experience."

In Italy, Carolina Morace was appointed Serie C1 (third division) club Viterbese in 1999, resigning after only two matches citing media pressure.

Roma have had two women chairpersons, Rosella Sensi and Fiora Viola, the latter of which replaced her husband Dino Viola after he died in 1991, while in Switzerland Gisela Oeri was president of FC Basel for five years from 2006.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, France had Nelly Viennot as the first woman to be assistant referee in an elite match. Viennot also served as assistant referee in Champions League games.

Referee Bibiana Steinhaus officiates in German second division games. She is the first woman referee in the second Bundesliga and the first to have been a referee in the German Cup.

Maria Jose Claramunt is the director of Spain's national team, responsible more for marketing than sporting issues while in England, Karren Brady is the former managing director of Birmingham City and is now the vice chairman of Premier League West Ham United. (Reporting by Julien Pretot; Additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann, Iain Rogers, Terry Daley, Brian Homewood and Pritha Sarkar; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty and Justin Palmer)

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