Helena Costa became the first woman to coach a men’s professional soccer team in France on Wednesday, when she was hired to coach the Clermont Foot 63, a second-division club in Germont-Ferrand.
“I think this is about more than Helena Costa as a football coach,” Costa told the New York Times in a telephone interview from her home country, Portugal. “I think it’s very good for all the women in sports, especially in football of course. It could have been someone else. And I hope this is only the first step. I opened a door today and more women will walk through on my back. That’s what I hope.”
Before coming to France, Costa, 36, managed the women’s national teams of Qatar and Iran, was a scout for Scottish men’s club Celtic and a manager for boys’ teams at Benfica in Portugal. This won’t be her first time coaching adult men: she coached a men’s team in Portugal that competed at the regional level.
No woman has ever coached a men’s team in the top two levels of Europe’s five major professional leagues in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. And there has never been a female coach in the United States’ MLS.
Costa will take over as manager later this month when the team’s current season ends.